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GAME BIRDS 



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THE 



GAME BIRDS 



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INDIA. BURMAH, AND CEYLON. 



HUME and MARSHALL 



VOLUME I. 




PREFACE. 




N presenting to our Subscribers this First 
Volume of " The Game Birds of India," we 
feel keenly how much we shall need their 
indulgent consideration. 

The plates, the most important portion of 
the work, and to secure the proper preparation 
of which Captain Marshall devoted nearly an entire 
year's leisure at home, are by no means all that we could 
have desired. 

In the first place having 150,000 plates to produce 
within a limited period, we were compelled to have 
recourse to chromo-lithography. Great as may seem 
the delay that has occurred in the appearance of this 
work, this would have been increased by some years 
had we adhered to our original design of giving hand- 
coloured plates. Chromo-lithographs, though more uniform 
in their tints, {every copy of any plate being infallibly 
exactly like every other copy, while hand-coloured plates 
always vary a good deal in tone) are yet always more 
harsh and staring, and admit of less elaboration of deli- 
cate details. Some, at any rate, of our plates are really 
beautiful for chromos, but the best chromo is not equal 
to a really good hand-coloured plate. But it would have 
taken five years to get 150,000 plates really well coloured 
by hand, and as for those coloured by hand by indifferent 
workmen, they are often worse than chromos. Here 
therefore, we were helpless. 

In the second place, we have had great disappoint- 
ments in artists. Some have proved careless, some 
have subordinated accuracy of delineation to picto- 
rial effect, and though we have, at some loss, rejected many, 
we have yet been compelled to retain some plates which 
are far from satisfactory to us. Too often, again, though 
exact details of the colours of soft parts were furnished to 
the artists, these have been wrongly represented, in some 
cases glaringly so. Throughout, both as regards the 



PREFACE. 



names of species (often misspelt), and the colours of the 
soft parts, the text and not the plates must be relied on. 

Yet in this matter of the plates, indifferent as the 
results may seem, Captain Marshall took an infinity of 
pains, and but for his labours this work could never have 
appeared. 

The text, for which Mr. Hume is mainly responsible, 
is likewise by no means what he would have wished to 
make it. A work like this requires leisure ; time to 
consult all that has ever been written by others. in regard 
to each species ; time to weld all this together with 
personal and unpublished experiences into a harmonious 
whole ; time to re-write, revise and polish. As it is, 
amidst the pressure of other work of all kinds, Mr. Hume 
has only been able to jot down roughly his own 
experiences, supplementing these by such notes of others, 
published and unpublished, as he chanced to have 
available. 

The printing, too, had necessarily to be done in India, 
and though extremely good for this country, cannot 
compare in finish and general appearance with similar 
work turned out at home, where sheets, as printed, can 
be passed between hot rollers, giving a gloss and finish 
to the pages impossible to be attained in any other 
manner. 

But the Authors' case is simply this : the work is one 
much wanted and long called for ; no one else appeared 
willing to incur the trouble and great expense involved 
in its preparation. Indifferent as it is, whether from an 
artistic or literary point of view, it will yet, it is 
believed, enable sportsmen to identify every game bird 
they may shoot, and ascertain something of its distribu- 
tion in India and elsewhere, of the places in which it 
may be sought, and of its habits, food, and nidification 
so far as these are yet known, and after all, imperfect 
as it may be, it is the best that, circumstanced as they 
have been, the Authors could possibly produce. 



Simla, ist July 1879. 



ALLAN HUME. 



(Slip to face page 2 of the Preface.) 



TO THE READER. 



As we hope, hereafter, to publish an improved and revised 
edition of this work, we shall be grateful for any scraps of infor- 
mation, however small, that any one> into whose hands "The 
Game Birds" may fall, may be able to furnish us, supple- 
mentary to what we have herein recorded, in regard to the Ver- 
nacular names, distribution, habits, food, notes, nidification, &c, 
&c, of any one of the species included in this work. 

No doubt we have fallen into many errors, possibly we may 
have omitted some species ; any one pointing out such errors 
or omissions will confer a great favour on us. 

Letters may at all times be addressed to me to " Rotkney, 
Simla ;" wherever I may, at the moment, chance to be, such 
letters, if I am still in the land of the living, will always be 
promptly forwarded to me. 

Allan Hume. 



SUPPLEMENTARY PREFACE. 




FEW words of explanation are due from me to 
our readers to account for the anomaly of a 
work whose cover bears the name of two 
authors being written by only one of these. 

A work like this, however, can only (if it is 
to form a consistent whole) be actually written 
by one person, and it became necessary, therefore, to 
divide the work involved in the production of the book 
in some other way than by assigning the preparation 
of half the text to one author and of the other half to 
the other. 

Two quite distinct and equally troublesome under- 
takings were included in the preparation of The Game 
Birds — the one the compilation of the text; the other 
the superintendence of the preparation of the enormous 
number of plates required. Mr. Hume desired to write 
the text, and the humbler, though perhaps not much less 
laborious, task fell to my share. 

I have performed my portion of the work to the very 
best of my abilities, and yet personally feel almost as if 
I were sailing under false colors in appearing before the 
world as one of the authors of this book ; but I allow 
my name to appear as such, partly because Mr. Hume 
strongly wishes it, partly because I do believe that as 
Mr. Hume says this work, which has been for years 
called for, would never have appeared had I not pro- 
ceeded to England, and arranged for the preparation of 
the plates, and partly because with the explanation thus 
afforded no one can justly misconstrue my action. 

C. H. T. MARSHALL. 



CONTENTS. 



Popular Name. 


Scientific Name, Page. 


The Great Bustard 


... Otis tarda 


I 


The Little Bustard ... 


... Otis tetrax 


3 


The Great Indian Bustard 


... Eupodotis edwardsi, 1 


7 


The Houbara 


... Houbara 2 macqueeni 


17 


The Bengal Florican ... 


... Sypheotis 3 bengalensis 


23 


The Lesser Florican or Likh ... Sypheotides aurita 4 ... 


33 


The Thibetan Sand-Grouse 


... Syrrhaptes tibetanus 5 


43 


The Large or Black-bellied Sand- 




Grouse ... 


... Pterocles arenarius ... 


47 


The Spotted Sand-Grouse 


eo9 Pterocles senegalus 6 ... 


53 


The Coronetted Sand-Grouse ... Pterocles coronatus ... 


57 


The Painted Sand-Grouse 


... Pterocles fasciatus 


59 


The Close-barred Sand-Grouse ... Pterocles lichtensteini 


65 


The Common Sand-Grouse 


... Pterocles exustus 


69 


The Pintailed Sand-Grouse 


... Pterocles alchata 


77 


The Common Pea-Fowl 


... Pavo cristatus 


81 


The Eastern or Burmese Pea-Fowl Pavo muticus 


93 


The Argus Pheasant ... 


... Argus 7 giganteus 


99 


The Grey Peacock-Pheasant 


... Polyplectrum 8 tibeta- 






num 9 


105 


The Malayan Peacock-Pheasant... Polyplectrum l ° bical- 






caratum 


113 


Hodgson's Eared-Pheasant 


... Crossoptilum 1 ' tibe- 






tanum 


ii5 


The Nicobar Megapode 


... Megapodius nicobari- 






ensis 12 


119 


The Moonal... 


... Lophophorus impeya- 






nus 


125 


The Crestless Moonal... 


... Lophophorus sclateri 


135 


1. Wrongly edwardsii on Plate. 

2. ,, Otis macqueenii on Plate. 

3. ,, Sypheotides on Plate. 

4. ,, auritus on Plate. 

5- >> thibetanus on Plate. 
6. ,, senegallns on Plate. 


7. Wrongly Arguscina gigantea on 

8. ,, Polyplectron on Plate. 

9. „ thibetanum in Text. 

10. ,, Polyplectron on Plate. 

11. ,, Crossoptilon on Plate. 

12. ,, nicobaricus on Plate. 


Plate. 



CONTENTS. 



Popular Name. 
The Indian Crimson Tragopan 
The Western Tragopan 

The Grey-bellied Tragopan 

The Blood-Pheasant 

The Koklass 

The Nepal Koklass 

The Cheer ... 

The White-crested Kalij 

The Nepal Kalij 

The Black-backed Kalij 

The Black-breasted Kalij 
The Aracan Silver Pheasant 
Crawfurd's Silver Pheasant 

The Vermicellated Pheasant 

The Fireback 

The Red Jungle-Fowl... 

The Grey Jungle-Fowl 

The Ceylon Jungle-Fowl 

The Red Spur-Fowl 

The Painted Spur-Fowl 

The Ceylon Spur-Fowl 

The Himalayan Snow-Cock 

The Thibetan Snow-Cock 



Scientific Name. Page. 

... Ceriornis satyra ... 137 
... Ceriornis melanoce- 

phalus' 3 ... 143 

... Ceriornis blythi" 4 ... 151 

... Ithagenes 15 cruentus 155 

... Pucrasia macrolopha . . . 159 

... Pucrasia nipalensis ... 165 

. . . Phasianus wallichi ' 6 . . . 1 69 
. . . Euplocamus albocrista- 

tus ... ... 177 

... Euplocamus leucome- 

lanus 17 ... 185 

... Euplocamus melanono- 

tus 13 ... ... 191 

... Euplocamus horsfieldi 197 

... Euplocamus cuvieri ... 201 

... Euplocamus crawfur- 

di 1 9 ... ... 203 

... Euplocamus lineatus... 205 

... Euplocamus vieilloti 20 213 

... Gallus * r ferrugineus... 217 

... Gallus sonnerati ... 231 

. . . Gallus lafay ettii 2 * ... 24 1 

... Galloperdix spadiceus 247 
... Galloperdix lunula- 

tus 23 ... ... 255 

... Galloperdix bicalcara- 

tus ... ... 261 

... TetraogalLus himalay- 

ensis ... ... 267 

... Tetraogallus tibeta- 

nus* 4 ... ... 275 



13. Wrongly melanocephala on Plate. 

14. ,, blythii on Plate. 

15. „ Ithaginis cruentis on Plate. 

16. ,, wallichii on Plate. 

17. ,, leucomel'tnos on Plate. 

18. ,, melanotis on Plate. 



19. Wrongly andersoni on Plate. 

20. , , viellotli on Plate. 

21. ,, Callus ferngineus on Plate. 

22. ,, stanleyi on Plate. 

23. ,, lunulosus on Plate. 

24. ,, thibetanus on Plate. 




F.Waller. Chromo-Lith. 18, Hatton Garden, London. 



*<**Po^ 



i 

OTIS. TARDA. 



Otis tarda, Linne. 



Vernacular Names.— Wom 




NCE, and once only, as yet, has the Great Bustard 
of Europe been obtained within the limits of the 
British Empire in the East. 

On the 23rd of December 1870, a couple of my 
collectors, who were working at Mardan, under the 
direction of Dr. J.A.Johnson, then of the Guides, came 
across a party of Bustard in some fields of mustard 
and giant millet, belonging to Hashtnagar and just north 
of the Kabul River. The birds were very shy, but my old 
jamadar succeeded, by driving a buffalo in front of him, in 
getting within shot and knocking over a female. 

This Hashtnagar is within a few miles of the very most 
north-westerly point of British India proper, and is in lat. 34 
N., and long. 71 45' E. 

This party of Bustard did not leave the neighbourhood for 
some weeks, but they were so wary that, despite all the efforts 
of many sportsmen, Native and European, no second specimen 
could be obtained ; and notwithstanding repeated subsequent 
enquiries from officers stationed at Mardan, Michni and Shab- 
kadar, in the midst of which Hashtnagar lies, I have never been 
able to learn that the Great Bustard has again revisited the 
locality. 

Hutton did not meet with this species in Affghanistan, nor 
has it as yet been recorded (though it may occur there) from 
any part of Persia, east of the Caspian. Its range may 
be roughly said to embrace nearly the whole of Europe, 
except the more northern portions (it used to be not uncommon 
in Great Britain, though now extinct there), the most northerly 
parts of Africa, (Algeria and Morocco), Asia Minor, North-West 
Persia, and probably nearly the whole of Asia, between the 38th 
and 60th parallels of north latitude, as far east as the Bureja 
Mountains (Radde,) and the plains of Northern and Central 
China, (David). Prjevalski met with single birds in the Great 
Gobi Desert, and found them breeding about Lake Hanka. 



In Europe they are seen at times in flocks or droves of fifty 
and upwards, and very commonly in parties of considerable size ; 



2 THE GREAT BUSTARD. 

but I apprehend that only small parties will ever be found 
to straggle within our limits, and I do not expect that they 
will ever prove to extend their wanderings east of the Indus. 

Of their habits, I personally know nothing ; but as described 
by European writers, they are precisely similar to those of our 
Great Indian Bustard. 

Our single Indian specimen had fed entirely on green mustard 
leaves; and I may note that, according to all authorities, it chiefly 
feeds on grain and leaves, though also eating insects, and does not 
appear to be ever the coarse feeder that its Indian ally is. 



Of COURSE, they never would breed within our limits. In 
Europe they lay about the end of May, sometimes two, some- 
times, it is said, three eggs. These eggs are placed in a slight 
depression in the soil, usually in some grain field, often unlined, 
at times thinly lined with straws or grass. They closely resem- 
ble some varieties of the eggs of the Great Indian Bustard, being 
" light brownish olive, or dull olive green, smudged and 
blotched with more or less distinctly defined dark brown 
blotches and irregular spots,"* but do not seem to vary nearly 
to the same extent in colour as do those of our Indian bird. 
Dresser gives the size often as 3*075 to 3*47 inches in length, 
and 2*075 to 2' 1 8 in breadth. 



OUR ONE Indian specimen, which was a female, was measured in 
the flesh by Dr. Johnson, who also recorded the colours of the 
soft parts. It measured : — Length, 33 inches ; expanse, 63 ; wing, 
18*25 ; tail from vent, 8*5 ; tarsus, 4*5 ; the greatest length 
of the foot was 2*5 ; and its greatest width, 275. It weighed 
8*25lbs. The legs and feet were brown; bill lavender; irides 
bright brown. 

The males are very much larger ; they average 45 inches in 
length; wing, 26; tail, 1 1 ; and tarsi, &2 ; and they weigh at times, 
as Montagu says, and Irby [B. of Gibraltar, p. 149) confirms this 
statement, fully 3oft>s. 



The Plate, though stiff and inartistic, gives a tolerably 
good general idea of the bird ; but it must not be supposed 
that the scales on the legs are the enormous things depicted by 
the artist (who probably had the back of a scaly Pangolin in 
his mind's eye when he drew them). Instead of only three, there 
are about ten rows of scales on the sides of the tarsi, and none 
of these scales are particularly prominent ; neither bill nor legs 
are quite rightly coloured. The plate represents a male ; the 
female wants the rufous pectoral band, as also the conspicuous 
whiskers of the male. In other respects the plumage of the 
sexes is very similar. 

* Dresser. 




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Otis tetrax, Linne. 



Vernacular Names.— [Chota tiiur.] 




HE Butterfly Houbara, as Indian sportsmen in the 
North-West have not inappropriately designated 
the Little Bustard of Europe, is a regular and tolerably 
abundant winter visitant to the northern portions 
of the Trans-Indus Punjab. 

Cis-Indus, they can only be considered rare and 
occasional stragglers. In December 1878, Colonel 
Macleod, R.A., shot a fine male of this species, near Gurdas- 
pur, and about the same time Mr. O. Greig shot a female at 
Balawala on the bank above the Ganges Kadar in the Saharanpur 
District ; and, though others must doubtless have occurred in 
the submontane tracts of the Punjab and North-Western 
Provinces, these are, I believe, the only instances on record of 
their being brought to bag. 

Out of India, the Little Bustard is common in suitable locali- 
ties in Southern Europe and Northern Africa, adjoining the 
basin of the Mediterranean. It straggles to Northern Europe, 
even to the British Islands and Sweden. It occurs, and very 
numerously, in some places, in Syria, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, 
Northern Persia,* Kabul and Northern Beluchistan, and through- 
out the tract of country lying between the Caspian and Western 
Yarkand, whence we have specimens from Yangihissar, Kashgar 
and other places in the plains between these and Sanju. 

It does not appear to go north across the Tian Shan, or 
eastwards into Mongolia or China ; neither Radde, Prjevalski, 
nor David include it in their lists. 



The FLIGHT of this species is very different to that of our other 
Bustards ; they often rise to a great height, and will flutter 
and twist about in the air (though they can fly with considerable 
rapidity and straight enough) in a way that has earned for 
them the local trivial name above alluded to. Whilst on the 
wing, they call continuously. 

* The birds seen on one of the Islands of the Persian Gulf by Blanford (Zool. 
Pers. 287) were probably Houbara, which I have ascertained breed on some of 
these. 



4 THE LITTLE BUSTARD. 

At times, especially early and late, they are very wary, but 
at other times, chiefly, I think, when the sun is high and hot, 
they will lie as close as a Button Quail. 

They are often shot, bags of ten and a dozen couple having 
been reported ; but it is chiefly as a quarry for Falcons that they 
are esteemed, and in the neighbourhood of Mardan, hawking 
them with the Saker or Chargh Falcon used to be a standing 
amusement. 

They are broad-breasted, compact, strong birds, but withal 
easily killed, though perhaps less so than Florican. 

It is almost invariably and solely in the mustard fields that 
they are met with about Mardan. They rise suddenly with a 
great pat-pat of the wings ; and, though quite invisible until they 
rise, startle one with the great breadth of pure white they 
suddenly reveal, the whole of the secondaries and much of 
the primaries being white. 

Some people consider this bird a delicacy. For my part, I 
have found the flesh dark and hard, and with a rather unplea- 
sant flavour. With us, they feed chiefly on the leaves of the 
Sarson, a kind of mustard, but I have also found remains of 
insects and land shells in their stomachs ; and in Europe they 
are said to eat slugs, snails and small reptiles, which, looking to 
the omnivorous tastes of our Great Indian Bustard, seems 
probable enough. 



WITH US, they do not breed, though they are said to breed in 
Beluchistan and AfTghanistan. In Europe, they lay in May, 
laying three or four eggs, like other Bustards, on the ground, in 
a small unlined or thinly-lined depression in the soil. Where 
many eggs (and as many as twelve have been thus met with) 
are found in the same nest, they are, I believe, the produce of 
more than one female. 

The eggs are broad ovals, longer than, but not so broad as, 
those of the Lesser Florican or Likh, which they otherwise 
closely resemble. They are always glossy, and vary from light 
olive green, more or less blotched with dark brown, to a uniform 
dark olive brown. Length, 1*9 to 2' I ; breadth, 1*47 to 1*55. 



I DO not find that the sexes differ materially in size, although 
the males unquestionably average rather larger and perceptibly 
heavier. 

The following are dimensions, &c, recorded of Indian speci- 
mens: — Length, 17 to 19 inches ; expanse, 33.5 to 36; wing, 
9.5 to io'i ; tail, 4 to 5 ; tarsus, 2*2 to 2*66 ; bill from gape, 1*5 
to 1 '6. Weight, 1*5 to 2flbs. 

The colours of the soft parts vary a good deal ; the legs 
and feet are yellow, dusky yellow, greenish yellow, the feet 
often browner or dingier ; the bill is blackish, greenish black, 



THE LITTLE BUSTARD. 



dusky horny or brown, generally paler on culmen, and bluish 
grey, greenish or yellowish at the base, and the irides vary from 
light yellow to orange. 



The Plate is an excellent one of the bird in winter 
plumage, in which, so far as I know, we alone obtain it ; but 
I ought to mention that the male in summer assumes a very 
different appearance, having then the sides of the head and the 
throat to the length of two inches greyish blue, with an inferior 
black margin, succeeded by a narrow ring of white, that colour 
extending more than an inch downwards in front in a pointed 
form. The middle of the neck, all round, for the length of two 
inches and a half is deep black, that colour being succeeded 
below by a half collar of white and another of black. 

I must add, that in many of my specimens the black mark- 
ings on the upper surface are more predominant than is depicted 
in the plate, giving the bird altogether a darker appearance ; as 
also that occasionally the whole lower surface has a more or 
less buffy tinge. 





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Eupodotis edwardsi, J. E. Gray. 



VsmaCUlair ITaiHSS. — [Toogder, Punjab; Sohun chirya, Gugumbher, Hookna, 
Gwalior, Jhansi, &c. ; Gurayin, Haridna, Punjab ; Hoom, (Marathi, ) 
Khandesh, Ndsik, Betul, Central Provinces, &=c. ; Kara-dhouk, Maldhouk, 
Deccan ; Gurahira, Sind, Thar and Pdrkar ; Butt-meka, Bat-myaka, (Telugu), 
Heri-hukki, Arl-koojina-hukki, (Canarese), Mysore.] 




HOUGH certainly by no means furnishing a delicate 
dish for the table, our Great Indian Bustard, partly 
on account of its general wariness and the difficulty 
one has in most parts of the country in approaching 
it, and partly on account of its beautifully vermicel- 
lated and gamey plumage, has always been reckoned 
a prize worthy of a sportsman's pursuit. 
How far south this Bustard extends, I cannot certainly say. It 
does not occur in Ceylon, nor have I any record of its occurrence 
(though this is quite possible) in Tinnevelly, Madura, or anywhere 
southwards of the Nilgiris. In Mysore, it is not rare, and north- 
wards of Mysore it is found in suitable localities throughout 
the Bombay Presidency (including Kathiawar and Cutch, in 
the former of which it is very abundant, and Sind where, 
save in the Thar and Parkar, it is very rare), except in the 
strip of country below the Ghats on the Western Coast. It 
occurs equally in the Nizam's Territory, Berar, the Central 
Provinces, as far east as Sambalpur, the Central India Agency, 
Rajputana, including Ajmere, and the Punjab, including Bahawal- 
pur. It nowhere, that I know of, crosses the Jumna north- 
wards or eastwards into the North-Western Provinces, though it 
approaches this river closely everywhere. I have seen it near 
Karnal, Delhi, Gurgaon, Dholpur, in the north of Gwalior, and 
in the Banda district, and I have heard of its occurring quite 
close to Allahabad across the Jumna. 

In Oudh, it used, I am told, to be not uncommon, though it is 
now, I fear, almost, if not quite, extinct there. I do not know that 
it has ever occurred in the North-Western Provinces, north and 
east of the Jumna, or below Allahabad north of the Ganges, or 
in Behar, or any part of Bengal, Orissa, or Chota Nagpore, but it 
may occur in Sasseram and Gya, as I have been informed (though 
this requires confirmation) that it has been shot in Mirzapur 
and Rewah. 



8 THE GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD. 

This species is peculiar to India ; and, though at one time 
Mr. Gray identified 0. luzoniensis, Vieill., founded on Sonnerat's 
" Paon sauvage de Lucon," with our Indian bird, there is no 
reason to suppose that any Bustard occurs in the Philippines, or 
that O. luzoniensiS) Scopoli's cristata, is other than a South 
African species. 

The Bustard is, of course, a bird of comparatively level and 
open country, and throughout the provinces and states above 
enumerated, it is only in such tracts that it is to be looked for. 
In forest-clad or hilly regions, it is not met with. 

It is to a great extent migratory, spending one season of the 
year in one part of the country, and moving to another to 
breed. Thus, for instance, in what used to be called Bhattiana, 
now the Sirsa district, it is extremely abundant during the 
rainy season, when it breeds : whereas, during the cold season, 
it is comparatively scarce. 

Although occasionally they may be surprised in a field of 
standing giant or bulrush millet, and shot, as I have shot 
them right and left, with quail shot, it is generally in compara- 
tively bare plains or in fields in which the cover is barely above 
their knees, that these Bustards are to be seen, and then 
it takes a careful stalk to get within a hundred yards of them. 

In many parts of the country, the sportsman is quite content 
if he gets within 150 yards, and at that distance, with an express 
and rifle a front shot, there should be no difficulty in bringing 
them to book. 

Jerdon gives a very good account of this species, chiefly com- 
piled from various contributions to our Sporting Reviews. 
He says : — ■ 

"The Bustard frequents bare open plains, grassy plains 
interspersed with low bushes, and occasionally high grass 
rumnahs. In the rainy season, large numbers may be seen toge- 
ther stalking over the undulating plains of the Deccan or Central 
India. I have seen flocks of twenty-five or more, and a 
writer in the Sporting Review mentions having seen above 
thirty on one small hill. 

" Towards the close of the rains, and in the cold weather 
before the long grass is cut down, the Bustard will often be 
found, at all events in the heat of the day, concealed in the 
grass, but not for the purpose of eating the seeds of the Roussa 
grass as the writer above alluded to imagines, rather for 
the large grasshoppers that abound there, and fly against you at 
every few steps you take. 

" During the cold weather the Bustard frequently feeds, and 
rests during the day likewise, in wheat fields. When the grass and 
corn are all cut, and the bare plains no longer afford food to the 
Bustard, it will be found along the banks of rivers, where there is 
long grass mixed with bushes, or the edges of large tanks, or low 



THE GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD. 9 

jungle, where there is moderately high grass, or it wanders to 
some district where there is more grass ; for though they do not 
migrate, yet Bustards change their ground much accord- 
ing to the season and the supply of grasshoppers and other 
insects. The hen birds, remarks the writer quoted above, 
generally congregate together during the rains, are very timid, 
and frequently, when a sportsman is pursuing a single one, 
she will attempt to seek safety, fatally for herself, in some large 
bush, particularly if the gunner turn aside his head and affect 
not to see her at the moment of hiding. The cock birds, at this 
season, feed a mile or so apart from the hens, and stretching 
their magnificent white necks, stride along most pompously. 

" Besides grasshoppers, which may be said to be their favourite 
food, the Bustard will eat any other large insect, more especi- 
ally Mylabris, or blistering beetle, so abundant during the 
rains ; the large Buprestis, Scarabcei, caterpillars, &c, also lizards, 
centipedes, small snakes, &c. Mr. Elliot found a Quail's egg 
entire in the stomach of one, and they will often swallow pebbles 
or any glittering object that attracts them. I took several 
portions of a brass ornament, the size of a No. 16 bullet, out 
of the stomach of one Bustard. In default of insect food, 
it will eat fruit of various kinds, especially the fruit of the 
Ber (Zizyphns jujuba) and Caronda (Carissa carandas), grain 
and other seeds and vegetable shoots. 

" The Bustard is polygamous, and at the breeding season, 
which varies very greatly according to the district, from October 
to March, the male struts about on some eminence, puffing out 
the feathers of his neck and throat, expanding his tail, and 
ruffling his wings, uttering now and then a low, deep, moaning 
call heard a great way off. 

" The Bustard has another call, heard not unfrequently, com- 
pared by some to a bark or a bellow ; chiefly heard, however, 
when the bird is alarmed. This is compared by the natives to 
the word hook, hence the name of hookna, by which it is 
known to the villagers about Gwalior. 

" When flushed, it generally takes a long flight, sometimes 
extending to three or four miles, with a steady, continued 
flapping of its wings, at no great height above the ground ; 
and I never found that it had any difficulty in rising, not 
even requiring to run one step, as I have many times had 
occasion to observe when flushing them in long grass or 
wheat fields. On the open bare plains, it will sometimes run a 
step or two before mounting into the air. A writer in the 
Bengal Sporting Magazine asserts that he has known the Bustard 
ridden down, and that after two or three flights it is so exhaust- 
ed as to allow of its capture. I imagine that a healthy bird 
would tire out the best horse and rider before giving in." 

The way in which the male expands the throat at times 
during the breeding season is most extraordinary. Twice I 



10 THE GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD. 

have closely watched the whole process through binoculars. 
First the male begins to strut about, holding his head up as 
high as if he wanted to lift himself off his legs ; then, after a few 
turns, he puffs out the upper part of the throat just under the jaws, 
then draws it in again, then puffs it again, and so on two, three, 
or four times, and then, suddenly out goes the whole throat 
down to the breast, and that part of it next the latter swells 
more and more ; his tail, already cocked, begins to turn 
right back, over the back, and the lower throat bag gets bigger 
and bigger, and longer and longer, till it looks to be within six 
inches of the ground. All the feathers of the throat stand out, 
and, looked at in front, he seems to have a huge bag covered 
with feathers hanging down between his legs, which wabbles 
about as he struts here and there, with wings partly unclosed, 
and occasional sharp snappings of his bill. From time to time 
he utters a sort of deep moan, and stands quite still, and then 
off he struts again close up to the female, and then away from 
her. On both occasions that I witnessed these antics, the 
excitement seemed gradually to relax, and no connubialities 
resulted. Whether this is usually a prelude to such, or a 
mere nautch for the edification of the female, like the Peacock's 
grand display, I cannot tell, but I am inclined to believe the latter. 

In parts of the Punjab, and doubtless elsewhere, the native 
fowlers are very expert in noosing them. A small party is 
descried in the middle of a plain. The fowler, with a blanket 
folded over head and shoulders, native fashion (or at times 
driving a trained bullock before him), and a large supply of 
pegs and gut nooses at his girdle, circles, slowly approaching 
nearer and nearer, round the flock. By little indications, 
inappreciable to us, he discovers the direction in which, 
if slightly and cautiously pressed, the Bustards will walk. 
Across this line of march, sauntering slowly backwards 
and forwards, and pretending to cut and collect grass the 
while, the fowler pegs down rows of nooses. Then, taking a 
wider circuit, he begins to approach the flock from the opposite 
side, not walking at them, but sideways, at right angles to the 
line he wishes them to take, passing nearer and nearer at each 
lap, never in the least alarming them, but quietly edging and 
pressing them towards the nooses. Sometimes he lets them 
walk right on to the nooses ; generally, when close to them, he 
drops his blanket, throws up his arms, and rushes at them. They 
always in these cases run a few paces before they rise, and 
though occasionally all escape, generally one, often two, and 
sometimes three or four, are caught by one or other leg. The 
chief skill consists in walking them exactly across the lines of 
nooses, which are never, according to my experience, more than 
fifty yards long, and usually much less. 

If they are feeding anywhere near a small patch of cover, 
into which you can make your way without their seeing or 



THE GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD. II 

smelling you (and though other sportsmen tell me that they 
have not noticed this, I have found their scent just as keen as 
an antelope's), you can easily get them driven over you, the only 
difficulty being that they fly so low that, if you are in high 
thick crops, they may pass within twenty yards or less without 
your catching a glimpse of them, though you hear the heavy thuds 
of their wings so loudly that you fancy they are just upon you. 
At times, in parts of the country where these are in common 
use by the whole population, you may shoot them with S. G. 
shot off a camel, or again from a cart, as some people shoot 
antelope ; but the only real sport is stalking them, and the 
modern '36 bore express rifle is just the thing for this. 

They are very coarse feeders, and in the Punjab I have found 
large lizards, desert rats, and all kinds of reptiles in their 
stomachs, besides quantities of the young green shoots of the 
lemon grass, of which they seem very fond. 

The flight is very heavy, though very powerful ; at a little dis- 
tance they may be for a moment mistaken, when on the wing, 
for Vultures. 

Several interesting notes on this species have been sent me, 
some of which I reproduce, as collectively they give a better 
general conception of the bird and its habits than could be 
gathered from any single account. 

" The Great Indian Bustard," writes Mr. G. Sanderson, 
" occurs somewhat plentifully throughout Mysore, in suitable 
localities, viz., open plains in the vicinity of scrub jungles. I 
have seen five feeding together, three commonly. I believe that 
the Bustard in Mysore migrates. It is exceedingly wary. Its 
note, usually uttered before daylight, is a booming cry, not 
unlike a distant shout ; hence it is denominated in Canarese the 
'bird that calls like a man' ( Arl-Koogina-Hnkki.) 

" The Bustard feeds in stubble fields and open plains till 
about 10 A.M., as also in the afternoon. During the heat of the 
day, it retires to low bush jungle. I have frequently shot 
Bustard by having markers posted upon commanding 
eminences within a circuit of three or four miles round their 
feeding grounds. The particular habits of the birds are 
generally well known locally, and when one has been marked 
down after its return from its morning feed, it may generally be 
walked up, within a few hundred yards of the place where it 
alighted. In the scrub jungle, they frequently lie very 
close, and must be carefully looked for. Before I was aware 
of this peculiarity, I failed to find several birds. On one 
occasion, a Bustard uttered its peculiar cry about twenty yards 
behind me. It had walked out of a small bush which I had 
passed within five yards, and uttered its note when standing 
on the ground." 

" This species" (says Mr. G. Vidal) " is found very sparingly 
in the eastern districts of the Poona and Satara Zillas. It 



12 THE GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD. 

is entirely absent in the Konkan, below the Sahyadri Range, 
and is scarcely ever seen within fifty miles to the east of the 
Ghats. The further east one travels, the more Bustard are 
seen, but they are very rare in both these zillas. During three 
years spent in the eastern sub-divisions of Satara (Khatao, 
Tasgaon, Khanapur) and the Jath State, I only saw five 
Bustards. In Poona, in the Bhimthadi and Indapur sub- 
divisions, there are two or three localities in which Bustard are 
found year after year. 

" The name Maldok is applied in Poona and Satara, and 
I believe throughout the Maratha country. In Satara, how- 
ever, it is frequently misapplied by natives, who have never seen 
Bustard, to the white-necked Stork, Dissnra episcopal* 

Mr. Davidson writes : — " Although, from all accounts, in 
greatly diminished numbers, the Great Indian Bustard is still 
found throughout the British Deccan ; I have personally noticed 
it in the Nagar, Poona, Sholapur and Satara Collectorates. It 
is perhaps commoner in the south of the Poona district 
than in any of the others, but it is even here yearly becoming 
scarcer. In the western districts of Satara, it is already ex- 
tremely rare, and I only saw three there altogether, all at one time, 
in the cold weather. In Poona and Sholapur, it is certainly 
a permanent resident, that is to say, that at all seasons a few 
may be found in parts of the Collectorate. I think, however, 
that more breed in the district than are to be found there in 
February or March, and that birds come in, in the beginning of 
the rains, to breed and leave when their young are able to fly. 
I have very seldom noticed Bustard in the black-soil villages, 
and have found them almost entirely confined to high un- 
culturable land covered with short grass (and in the summer 
nearly baked into the consistency of a rock), or among the 
high grass preserves." 

Mr. J. E. James says that this Bustard is a common and 
permanent resident of Khandesh and Nasik, but is rarer in 
Guzerat. 

" It is chiefly found on high lying sterile plateaux, where 
there is not too much cultivation. It lives chiefly on insects. 
Frequently an old cock is to be seen, and that from a very long 
distance, stalking majestically about alone. In the rains, he 
usually has a harem of five to six hens with him, and solitary 
hens are not often met with. Once I counted more than 30 in 
a flock. 

" Its name, ' Hum,' used throughout the districts above 
referred to, is supposed to be derived from its booming cry. 
When winged, it will defend itself vigorously, uttering the loud 
and deep cry alluded to. 

" The best way I know of shooting them is by stalking them 
behind a country cart, which should be driven past them. They 
take loose B.B. shot or wire cartridges of the same, but I 



THE GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD. 13 

have seen them driven overhead with success. The largest bag 
I ever knew of was made near Malegaon, in the Nasik district, 
when an officer came on a flock feeding in a field of Jowari, 
which was above their heads. He walked them up and shot 
eight of them as they rose, like so many Partridges." 

From Sind, Mr. S. Doig writes : — 

" The only district where I know personally of the occurrence 
of this bird is the Thar and Parkar, where it is tolerably plenti- 
ful. It is a permanent resident, and breeds in the " Thar " or 
desert portion. 

" It wanders occasionally in the cold weather to the plains 
along the edge of the desert, sometimes going even as far as the 
Indus. 

a Its home, however, with us is the desert, among the sand hills. 
When its food there gets scarce in the cold weather, especially 
in a year when no rain has fallen, it visits the 'Jamba' 
(oil-seed) fields, on the plains, coming down to them to feed in 
the evenings, and returning to the sand hills in the morning. 
When disturbed, it utters a peculiar sharp trumpeting note, 
something between a hoot and a whistle. 

" Besides stalking them (of which I need only say that, as the 
birds generally choose some open plain in the sand hills, or out 
in the flat, it is rarely possible to work within gun-shot of them), 
I have bagged them both by lying in wait for them and having 
them driven. Of each method I may give an instance. 

" I happened one day to discover a ' Jamba ' field in the mid- 
dle of an open plain, which was frequented by some Bustard. I 
noticed that they always came there about three in the afternoon. 
So one day I started off about two o'clock with a rug and a 
book, and concealed myself in the field on the side by which 
they usually approached. 

" In the course of time, I observed the birds stalking down 
the side of the sand hills, some half mile away. They ap- 
proached with extreme caution, trumpeting every now and then 
to one another. When they were within a couple of hundred 
yards, I stopped watching them, and laid myself flat on the 
ground, holding the gun ready cocked in front. Soon they got to 
the ' Jamba] and I conclude began to feed, as I heard no more 
noise, until suddenly I heard the sharp note of one close to me, 
evidently having discovered me, so I jumped up and fortunately 
secured a right and left. I cannot call this sport, but it was 
interesting to watch the actions of the bird, and as one does not 
always succeed, it is more or less exciting. 

" One morning, while on the march, I spotted thirty-four 
Bustard in one ' Jamba ' field, near the foot of the sand hills. 
I looked round, fixed on the place in which to conceal myself 
hurriedly explained to the camel driver what to do, and, 
as the camel passed my proposed hiding place, I dropped 
off (without stopping the camel), and threw myself flat among 



14 THE GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD. 

the bushes. The driver went on and got round on the opposite 
side of the birds, and gradually drove them just like so many 
deer. 

" Lying flat, I could hear their loud calls getting nearer and 
nearer, until at last, when I jumped up, I found myself in the 
middle of the flock, getting an easy right and left, and wound- 
ing a third badly, which I afterwards picked up. 

" Sometimes, but rarely, a Bustard will hide itself, or rather 
imagine it has hid itself, behind a small bush in the plain, allow- 
ing the sportsman to go round and round it in a gradually 
narrowing circle until he is within easy range." 



The Great Indian Bustard in Upper India lays mostly in July 
and August, but the breeding season varies a good deal according 
to the rainfall, and we have found eggs as early as the first-half of 
March and as late as the first-half of September. In Southern 
India, according to Jerdon, they lay during the cold season. 

The eggs are placed on the ground, at the base of some bush or 
tuft of grass, in a small depression, generally unlined, often thinly 
lined with a few straggling blades of grass. The situation 
varies ; sometimes the nest is in an open waste, sparsely 
dotted with a few herbaceous shrubs, often in the stubble of 
the giant and bulrush millets, and still more often in clumps 
and patches of high thatching grass, or the dense soft lemon 
grass, so characteristic of the favourite haunts alike of this Bus- 
tard and the Houbara. 

My impression is, that the birds lay only one egg. But 
sometimes two eggs are found pretty close together, and 
either the females not unfrequently lay very close to each 
other, or when a female does lay more than one egg, she 
deposits the second some little distance away from the first. 
Khan Nizam-ud-din Khan has taken more than a hundred of 
these eggs with his own hand, and he never found two eggs 
side by side. Where, as not unfrequently happens, two are 
within a yard or two of each other, he believes that they belong 
to different birds, and that this is a fact he has in one or two 
cases proved by snaring both females. I have only myself 
seen five nests, each containing a single egg. I can, therefore, 
say nothing positive on this subject. 

The eggs vary very much in size and shape. They are 
all more or less oval, but while some are moderately broad 
and slightly pointed at one end, others are long ovals, 
exactly similar at both ends, and others again are long 
and cylindrical, of the same size and shape as the egg 
of the great Northern Diver, figured by Mr. Hewitson ; and 
I have one specimen that, both in colour, shape, and size, might 
have been the one from which his plate of the egg of the 
European Bustard was taken. The shells are very thick and 
strong, closely resembling those of the Sarus in texture, and, 



THE GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD. 1 5 

like those of this latter species, the eggs very commonly 
exhibit pimples and rugosities at the large end, so much so 
that, out of sixty eggs now before me, only seven are perfectly 
free from such imperfections. Some of the eggs are dull and 
with little gloss, the whole surface being closely pitted with 
small pores similar to, but fewer than, those in the Peafowl's 
egg, while other specimens are brilliantly glossy. The ground 
colour varies much. Typically it is a sort of drab colour, but it 
is often earthy brown, pale olive brown, pale reddish brown, 
dingy olive green, and, although rarely, even pale leaden blue. 
The markings vary in extent, number, and intensity ; 
sometimes they are pretty deep reddish brown and 
clearly-marked blotches, but more usually they are pale 
reddish brown clouds and streaks, sometimes so faint as to 
be mere mottlings, and sometimes, though rarely, altogether 
wanting. Occasionally, the markings form an irregular blotchy 
cap at the large end. 

Out of sixty eggs in my collection, no two are precisely alike. 

In length they vary from 275 to 3*42, and in breadth from 
2*05 to 2*45, but the average of sixty eggs is 3*11 by 2*24. 

As to dimensions, I must go by my own measurements. 
Jerdon says that males run to 60 inches in length, and 281bs in 
weight. They may do so, just as tigers perhaps do attain a 
length of over 12 feet, but I have never met with any such 
giants. 

I have found adult males vary as follows : — 

Length, 45 to 50 inches ; expanse, 86 to 96 ; wings, 24*5 to 
29; tarsi, 7*5 to 8*37 ; bill to gape, 4*0 to 475. Weight, 17 to 
22lbs. 

Females. — Length, 36 to 38 inches ; expanse, J2 to 76 ; wings, 
20'0 to 22 ; tarsi, 5-5 to 6*8. Weight, 8 to 10 lbs. 

The legs and feet are generally yellowish creamy, a little 
dingy on the toes ; but I have noted specimens in which the 
legs had more of a light fleshy tinge, and others in which the 
pale yellow had a grey or plumbeous tinge ; the irides vary 
from pale to bright yellow ; the bill is greyish brown to grey- 
ish white, dusky at tip and near forehead, and often a little 
yellowish below. 

The Plate errs in showing the legs with enormous scales 
and of a much too pure and bright yellow, and in the bill, which 
is altogether wrongly coloured. It altogether fails to convey an 
adequate idea of the intricate minuteness of the vermicellations 
of the upper parts, and the slaty hue of the white-tipped wing 
feathers is ignored. Some birds have the upper surface a much 
deeper brown than the specimen figured, while others again are 
much greyer, especially on the rump, upper tail-coverts, and tail. 




CO 

o 



Ill MMMUI 



Houbara macqueeni, J. E. Gray 8f Hardwicke. 



V©raaCTllar BTa&lOS. — [Tiloor, Houbara, Boombara, Punjab ; Taloor, (Sindi) 

Sind.] 




IS first day with the Houbara, if this happens to have 
been, as mine was, in a part of the country where 
they are plentiful, will always be remembered with 
pleasure by the sportsman ; but after the novelty of 
the thing has worn off, one is forced to admit that 
the sport they yield is but poor, and that, when killed, 
they form no such delicious contribution to the table 
as does their near ally, the Bengal Florican. 

Throughout the plains portions of the Punjab, Rajputana 
north* of the Arvalis, Northern Guzerat, Cutch, the 
northern parts, at any rate, of Kathiawar and Sind, the 
Houbara may be said to extend during the cold season, but 
throughout the eastern and southern portions of the tract thus 
defined they are mere occasional stragglers. I have known 
specimens killed in Delhi, Gurgaon and Rohtak, and again a 
single one in Bhurtpore, but I have only known of one being 
met with east of the Jumna, and that was one I myself shot 
in the Meerut district. It is in Bickaneer, Jodhpore, Sirsa, 
Jeysulmere, and such like semi-desert country further west that 
the Houbara really abounds, and here over a hundred may 
sometimes be seen in a single day. 

In the stony plains of Afghanistan, as Hutton tells us, they 
are common all the year round, and in the highlands there, as 
in those of Beluchistan and Persia, they probably breed during 
the summer, migrating to the lowlands, and vast numbers of 
them beyond these into our Indian plains, during the cold 
season. 

Throughout Persia it is common, and northwards, in the coun- 
try between Yarkand and the Caspian, it occurs and breeds, but 
westwards its range is as yet undefined. It has occurred as a 
rare straggler in England and most of the northern and central 
countries of Europe. A Houbara, but whether our bird or 
the nearly allied African species (H. undiilata) is still uncertain, 
occurs in Asia Minor, Armenia, Palestine and Arabia. Filippi, 

* Although I have never seen specimens thence, I have received fairly reliable 
accounts of single specimens having been seen, south of the Arvalis, in the 
northern parts of Oodeypore and Neemuch. 



1 8 THE HOUBARA. 

who says he got the African form in Armenia, preserved no 
specimens, and Tristram, who found it common in the Jordan 
valley, fancied that the two birds were identical, and also pro- 
cured no specimens. In some of the islands of the Persian 
Gulf, our species has been obtained ; indeed, a few pairs are 
supposed to have bred in an island near Fau a few years ago ; 
probably both in Armenia and in the eastern portions of 
Arabia it is our bird that occurs. 



I HAVE never known the Houbara to be shot earlier in India 
than the 27th of August, and the usual time for their appear- 
ance in the Sirsa district, for instance, is (earlier or later accord- 
ing to season) during the first fortnight in September. 

They leave again towards the close of March, or early in 
April, according as the hot weather closes in earlier or later, and 
quite in the extreme north-west I have heard of a straggler 
being shot on the 28th April. It is clearly the heat that drives 
them away, and just before they leave, I have noticed that dur- 
ing the hottest part of the day they lie like stones and will 
barely run or fly. 

Although pairs, and even single birds, are not unfrequently 
met with, the Houbara with us is eminently gregarious, and 
I have put up as many as twenty in a single flight. 

Some sportsmen think that females greatly preponderate, 
and this may be so in particular parties, but I have never no- 
ticed it ; and I see that in the Sirsa district, between the 16th 
and the 22nd November 1867, I killed 83 birds, 47 of which 
were males, which, even allowing for the males getting the pre- 
ference when a choice occurs, as being the finest and largest 
birds, does not look like any preponderance of females. 

I have never heard this bird utter any sound, either when 
feeding undisturbed, or when suddenly flushed, or when 
wounded and seized, or about to be seized, by man or dog. 
Possibly during the breeding season the males have some 
call. 

By preference, the Houbara affects the nearly level, though 
slightly undulating, sandy semi-desert plains, which constitute 
so important a feature in the physical geography of Western 
India. Plains, semi-desert indeed, but yet affording in places 
thin patches, in places a continuous sea, of low scrubby cover, 
in which the dwarf Zizyphus, (the Ber), the Lana {Anabasis 
multiflord)y the Booee {ALrua bovii), various Salsolas, stunted 
Acacia bushes, and odorous tufts of lemon grass are conspi- 
cuous. 

Here the Houbara trots about early and late, squatting under 
the shade of some bush, during the sunniest hours of the day, 
feeding very largely on the small fruit of the Ber, or the berries 
of the Grewia, or the young shoots of the lemon grass, and 
other herbs ; now picking up an ant or two, now a grasshopper 



THE HOUBARA. 19 

or beetle, and now a tiny land-shell or stone, but living chiefly 
as a vegetarian, and never with us, to judge from the hundreds 
I have examined, feeding on lizards, snakes, and the like, as the 
Great Bustard certainly does, and the African Houbara is said 
to do. 

The Houbara greatly prefers running to flying, and when 
the weather is not too hot, will make its way through the 
labyrinth of little bushes which constitute its home at a really 
surprising pace. So long as the cover is low, its neck and body 
are held as low as possible, but as soon as it gets where it 
thinks it cannot be seen, it pulls up, and raising its head as 
high as possible, takes a good look at its pursuers. Not unfre- 
quently it then concludes to squat, and though you may have 
been, unobserved, watching it carefully, whilst it was only watch- 
ing others of the party coming from an opposite direction, it 
becomes absolutely invisible the moment it settles down at the 
foot of a bush or stone. Once it has thus settled, especially 
if it is hot and about noon, you may walk past it within ten 
yards without flushing it, if you walk carelessly and keep 
looking in another direction. 

But it is weary work trudging on foot, under an Indian sun, 
after birds that run as these can and will, and in the districts 
where they are plentiful, people always either hawk them or 
shoot them from camels. 

Off a camel, a large bag is easily made, and as, whilst after 
these Bustards, you get from time to time shots at Antelope or 
Ravine-deer, Quail, Partridges, and, on rare occasions, a Great 
Bustard also, it is not bad fun, though rather monotonous, like 
the scenery that surrounds one. 

Taking the camel at a long, easy, six-miles-an-hour trot, 
across one of those vast wildernesses they affect, you will 
not be long before, raised high up as you are on camel- 
back, you catch sight of one or more Houbara feeding amongst 
the bushes. To them camels have no evil import ; everybody 
uses them ; none but the veriest pauper walks, every one rides, 
and rides camels. The peasant going out to plough his field 
rides on one camel and puts his plough on the other, which, with 
its nose-string fastened to the tail of the one he rides, trots 
along complacently behind. When, therefore, the Houbara see 
you coming along on a camel, they only move a little aside, so as 
to be out of your line of march, and you at once begin to des- 
cribe a large spiral round them, so that, while appearing al- 
ways to be passing away from them, you are really always clos- 
ing in on them. Sometimes, if the time be early or late, or if 
the day be cold or cloudy, long before you are within shot, they 
start off running, and if you press them further, ultimately take 
wing, flying heavily, and soon re-alighting and running on, never, 
so far as I have seen, taking the long flights that the Great 
Bustard does, and never fluttering and skylarking in the air 



20 THE HOUBARA. 

as do the little ones. Generally, however, if the time be be- 
tween 10 and 4, and the day bright and warm, as your spiral 
diminishes the birds disappear suddenly. They have squatted. 
Still you go on round and round, closing in in each lap, and strain- 
ing your eyes, usually in vain, to discover their whereabouts ; 
suddenly, perhaps from under the very feet of the camel, up 
flutters one of the birds, and after a few strides, rises, to fall 
dead a few yards further on, as they are easy to hit and easy 
to kill. Of course, I suppose a trained camel to be used, other- 
wise, what with flies, keeping up a perpetual twitching of every 
part of the beast's head, neck and body, and its natural suspi- 
cions that you and your gun are up to no good, you will 
find it by no means difficult to miss even a Houbara, especially 
if you do not remember always so to slew your camel round 
as to have the bird well on your left side. 

At the first shot, all the Houbara that are at all close usually 
rise, but after shooting a brace right and left, and having them 
picked up and slung, I have known a third blunder up from 
within a few yards. 

Often, especially when you are out alone, and after breaking 
up a large flock (which it is always best to do), are working a 
single bird, you close in and in until you reach the very bush 
by which you last saw it, and yet can find no trace of it. You 
pull up, as this generally starts the bird, but sometimes even 
then nothing is to be seen. The way they will squat at times 
on an absolutely bare patch of sand is astonishing ; their plu- 
mage harmonizes perfectly with the soil, and you will have a 
bird rise suddenly, apparently out of the earth, within five yards 
of you, from a spot where there is not a blade of cover, and on 
which your eyes have perhaps been fixed for some seconds. 
This is especially the case about mid-day, when the sun is 
nearly vertical and no shadow is thrown by the squatting bird. 
Sometimes they try another plan ; they get behind a single 
bush, and, as you circle round, they do the same, always keeping 
the bush between themselves and the sportsman ; here, unless 
the sun is quite vertical, their shadow projected on the ground, 
apart from that of the bush, is sure, at certain positions in the 
circle, to betray them, and a shot through the bush brings them 
to bag. 

In some parts of the country, the Houbara greatly affect 
fields of mustard and other crops yielding the oil-seeds of 
commerce, of which there is a vast variety, known by half a 
dozen different names, in almost every province. 

When these fields are well grown, and are, say, a little higher 
than the bird itself stands, exceptionally good sport may at 
times be obtained. 

They cannot run here, the growth is too dense, and a line 
of guns and beaters, sweeping a large field of this kind into 
which a flock has been marked, will often account for the whole 



THE HOUBARA, 21 

party, flushing them like so many Pheasants out of a dense 
turnip field, with buckwheat lines, along a cover side. 

I have occasionally seen them in wheat, barley, and other grain 
fields, but only when these were young and tender. 

Very large bags of Houbara are sometimes made. In the 
western parts of the Sirsa district, in years in which they are 
plentiful (for the numbers that visit us are variable, dependent 
on the rainfall further west), any man could shoot twenty in a 
day ; and General Marston, while Superintendent of Police in 
the Kurrachee district, shot, I believe, forty-eight (and some 
people say fifty-eight) on one occasion. 

Both in Sind and in the Punjab natives often hawk them, but 
they afford but little sport ; and, so far as my personal experience 
goes, generally drop so sharp into cover that the Falcon as a 
rule stoops in vain. 

Two or three times I have seen them nobly struck by wild 
Bonelli's Eagles, and wounded birds are often struck by other 
Eagles, notably the common vindhiana. 



This SPECIES does not breed in India Proper, though it does 
in Affghanistan, and (though I believe sparingly), in the highlands 
of Beluchistan. I have never seen an egg, and have no 
authentic account of its nidification. It doubtless, as Kabulis 
have told me, lays in some small depression in the soil, two or three 
eggs, very similar to, probably (except for their somewhat smaller 
size) undistinguishable from those of the African bird, which 
are broad ovals, somewhat pointed towards each end, "olivace- 
ous brown, tolerably regularly marked with somewhat blurred 
broad dashes of darker brown, and here and there spotted 
with clear blackish brown," measuring from 2*3 to 25 in 
length, by 175 to 1*9 in breadth. 



JERDON SUGGESTED that the ruff and crest might in this species 
be peculiar to the male, and the former only seasonal ; but, 
as I pointed out long ago {Ibis, 1868), both these are 
equally possessed by both sexes at all seasons, though both 
are more developed in the male than in the female. The young- 
est birds I have seen had a few short crest feathers and a small, 
but very apparent, ruff. 

The sexes, except as regards length of ruff and crest, are 
nearly alike in plumage, though the female is a little lighter 
in colour ; the chief difference consists in the size, the males 
being considerably larger. 

The adult males measure as follows : — 

Length, 28 to 30*25; expanse, 51-5 to 5775; wing, 15 
to 1&1 ; tail from vent, 8*5 to 1025 ; tarsus, 3-4 to 3*9 ; bill 
from gape, 2-3 to 2*4. Weight, 4 to 5^ lbs. Sir John Malcolm, 
in his Sketches of Persia, states that a Houbara killed before 



22 THE HOUBARA. 

him weighed 10 lbs ; but this is some error, for I have weigh- 
ed more than one hundred, and have in this number only met with 
three exceeding 5 lbs in weight, and none of these by more 
than 4 ozs. 

Adult Females. — Length, 25 to 27-5 ; expanse, 47 to 51 ; wing, 
14*25 to 15*25 ; tail from vent, 7-75 to 925 ; tarsus, 3*15 to y6 ; 
bill from gape, 2 to 2-5. Weight, 2ft>. 10 ozs. to 31b. 12 ozs. 

The irides vary from pale to bright yellow, and it is the 
more necessary to note this because Bree figures them red, 
and Dresser as brown, and even our own artist has not made 
them the clear light yellow that they are. 

The legs and feet are pale yellow, never clear and bright, mostly 
with a dingy, or greenish, or plumbeous tinge, at times creamy ; 
the bill is blackish or dusky above, paler, usually greenish or 
yellowish, on gape and lower mandible. 



The Plate would be really good if the chromo-lithogra- 
phers had not reproduced the running of the black on the 
neck, which unfortunately occurred in Mr. Neale's painting, 
and if human art could do justice to the inconceivably delicate 
pencillings that adorn the entire upper surface. The specimen 
figured was a very brightly coloured one ; the majority are 
greyer and less rufous, especially on the front of the neck and 
on the tail. The plate is wrongly lettered. I consider Houbara 
a recognizably distinct sub-genus. 



■^w 



rat iiiiii flmimi. 



Sypheotis bengalensis, P. X. £. Mailer. 



Vernacular ITameS- — [Charas, Charat, Charj, iV. W. Provinces, Oudh, &c, 
Dabar, Nepal Tarai ; male Ablac, female Bor, *'« »w«}' /ar/j of the Tarai ; 
Ooloo Moora, Ooloo Moira, Assam.] 




HE Bengal Florican is almost confined to Eastern 
Bengal,* the valley of Assam, the Bhutan Duars, 
and those portions of Bengal, Oudh, and the North- 
Western Provinces lying north of the Ganges. Jerdon 
says that it spreads through the valley of the 
Jumna into Rajputana, the Cis-Sutlej States, and 
parts of the Punjab ; but this is wrong. It is the 
Houbara that is found in these localities, not the Bengal Florican ; 
but sportsmen constantly call the Houbara the Florican, and 
hence the mistake. I have never seen the true Florican any- 
where west of the Kadar of the Ganges, except as a rare 
straggler in the Dun ; and there again it does not, to the best 
of my belief, extend further west than the Kadar of the Jumna. 
In Meerut I have killed both the Houbara and the Likh, but 
it is only when you get quite down into the Kadar of the 
Ganges at Hastinapur and Makhdumpur, or again southwards 
below Garhmuktesar, that you meet the true Florican, and here 
we used to pick up a few couples every cold season. 

This species has been recorded from Tipperah and Sylhet, 
but Captain Williamson tells me he has never seen it in 
the latter, and both he and Mr. Inglis say the same as regards 
Cachar. 

This Florican is essentially Indian, and extends, so far as we 
know, nowhere beyond the limits of the empire. It is possible, 
however, that it may hereafter be found to occur in the country 
immediately east of Assam. 

MR. HODGSON'S monograph of this species still continues the 
most exhaustive account we have of it, and from it I reproduce, 
with slight alterations, the following : — 

" Tarai is an Indian term equivalent to Pays Bas, Landes, 
Marches, and Marshes, of European tongues ; and the name 
Tarai is applied, par excellence, to a low-lying, moist and rarely 
redeemed tract of level waste, extending outside the Sal forest 

* It is found, however, occasionally as far west as Nuddea at any rate. 



24 THE BENGAL FLORICAN. 

along the base of the sub-Himalayas from the debouche" of the 
Ganges to the Brahmaputra. This tract, of great extent and 
peculiar features, is the favourite habitat of the Florican, which 
avoids the mountains entirely, and almost, if not quite as 
entirely, the arid and cultivated plains of the Doab, and of the 
provinces west of the Jumna. It dwells, indeed, upon plains 
exclusively, but never upon nude or cultivated plains. Shelter 
of Nature's furnishing is indispensable to it, and it solely inhabits 
wide-spreading plains, sufficiently elevated to be free from in- 
undation, and sufficiently moist to yield a pretty copious crop 
of grasses, but grasses not so thick nor so high as to impede 
the movements or vision of a well-sized bird that is ever afoot 
and always sharply on the look-out. Such extensive, well-clad, 
yet uncultivated plains are, however, to be found only on the 
left bank of the Ganges, and accordingly I believe that to that 
bank the Florican is nearly confined, and to the Tarai portion 
thereof. 

" The moults are two annually — one vernal, from March till 
May, and the other autumnal, which is less complete and more 
speedily got over, between August and October. The young 
males, up to the beginning of March, entirely resemble the females, 
but the moult then commencing gradually assimilates them 
to the adults, which never lose, as the lesser species or Likh 
does, after the courting season, the striking black and white garb 
that in both species is proper to the male sex, and permanently 
so to the larger species from and after its first year of age. The 
young males of a year, however, have the hackles and crest less 
developed than those graceful ornaments afterwards become. 
There is, properly speaking, no nuptial dress in this species, 
though the hackles and crest in their most entire fulness of 
dimensions may be in part regarded as such." 

Mr. Blyth, I should notice, asserts that this species, like the 
Likh, has a most distinct breeding plumage. He says* : " Mr. 
Hodgson is also certainly mistaken in his assertion that the 
nuptial dress is worn permanently, as we have witnessed the 
change before described, and the subsequent partial renewal of 
the breeding livery, which latter was not well developed in 
captivity, and have likewise observed the fact in the skins of 
wild specimens." 

I am in no position to decide this question, and I can only say 
that I have certainly killed some birds in the black and white 
livery in both January and February, though I also distinctly re- 
member bagging many more brown than pied ones, when shoot- 
ing during the cold season. But these may have been young birds 
or females ; I never sexed birds in those days. Two young but 
full grown, or nearly full grown, males before me, shot in January, 
have the black bodies and white wings of the adult, but the 

* Contr. Ornith., 1850, 45. 



THE BENGAL FLORICAN. 25 

heads and necks are like those of the females. In one specimen, 
shot on the 24th of January, the black plumes are moulting in 
about the head and neck also. An adult, killed in March, is 
entirely in the black and white livery, though the plumes are 
less developed than in full breeding plumage. This is quite in 
accordance with Hodgson's observations ; and my own present 
impression is, that the majority of, if not all, adult males retain 
the black and white plumage permanently, although with the 
ruff and plumes much less conspicuous than at the nuptial 
season, and that the birds observed to moult into this livery 
by Blyth must have been young ones, or birds abnormally de- 
pressed by captivity. 

Jerdon, however, thinks that, with the exception of some few 
birds — very old ones probably — the males do lose much of the 
black plumage during the cold season. 

To return to Mr. Hodgson : " The Florican is a shy and wary 
bird, entirely avoiding fully-peopled and fully-cultivated districts, 
but not averse from the neighbourhood of a few scattered 
squatters whose patches of cultivation, particularly of the 
mustard plants (Rai, Tori, and S arson) are acceptable to it as 
multiplying its chances of appropriate food. 

"This exquisitely-flavoured bird is a rather promiscuous 
feeder ; small lizards, young snakes, insects of most sorts, but 
above all locusts, and after them, grasshoppers, beetles, the 
sprouts and seeds and succulent runners of various grasses, 
berries, stony fruits, aromatic lactiferous leaves, and stems of 
various small plants, with mustard tops and other dainties, 
all contributing to its nourishment. The largest portion of 
its usual food is vegetals ; but when insects abound, and especi- 
ally locusts, they are almost exclusively eaten. Cerealia are 
eschewed ; but plenty of hard-seeded grasses and such like 
are taken, and a goodly portion of gravel to digest them. 

"The Florican is seldom found in thick cover. When 
he is, he lies close, so that you may flush him at your 
foot ; but in his ordinary haunts, amid the scattered tufts of 
more open grass plats he can be neared with difficulty only, and 
No. 5 shot and a good heavy gun are required to bring him 
down at 40 to 60 yards distance. His flight is strong, with a 
frequent rapid even motion of the wings, and if he be at all 
alarmed, it is seldom suspended under 200 to 300 yards, whilst 
not unfrequently it is continued so as to carry the bird wholly 
out of sight and pursuit. When flying, the neck is extended 
before the body, and the legs tucked up under it, whereas the 
whole family of the Herons fly with neck retracted over the 
back, and legs stretched out behind — differences, the rationale 
of which can as little be conjectured as that of the gyrations of 
the dog ere he lays himself down to repose. The walk of the 
Florican, like that of the Heron, is firm and stately, easy and 
graceful : he can move afoot with much speed, and is habitu= 



26 THE BENGAL FLORICAN. 

ally a great pedestrian, seldom using his powerful wings except 
to escape from danger, or to go to and from his feeding ground 
at morn and eve, or to change it when he has exhausted a beat. 

" This species is silent and tranquil, and except in the breeding 
season, seldom utters a sound, but if startled, its note is a shrill 
metallic chik, chik-chik, and the more ordinary note is the 
same but softer and somewhat plaintive." 

In the cold season, I have most commonly found it in the 
neighbourhood of large rivers, the Ganges and its affluents on 
the left bank. Open turfy spaces, sprinkled with tufts of rushes, 
such as occur every here and there in the midst of wide stretches 
of Jhao {Tamarix indica) jungle are favourite haunts, as are 
patches of recently burnt grass, where the new tender shoots are 
just sprouting. If not fired at, they will almost always return 
to the spot whence they were flushed, if not at once, at any rate 
before next morning, and when beating for Parah (Hog-deer) on 
the banks of the Ganges, I made it a rule never to fire at a 
Florican unless he rose within a reasonable distance, as, if not 
fired at, he was sure to be found next day within a short dis- 
tance of the place at which he was flushed. 

Florican are, I think, almost the fattest birds one shoots, and 
certainly amongst the best birds for the table with which India 
furnishes us. Whether it is on account of their excessive fatness 
and their somewhat smaller size, or what, I do not know, but the 
Florican is by no means such a difficult opponent to a good Falcon 
as is the Houbara. A good Shaheen will cut a Florican down with 
a slanting dash almost as soon as it is up, and before it has time 
to drop, which it always tries to do directly it catches sight of the 
Falcon. The prettiest hawking I ever saw was in 1852, in the 
Tarai between Pilibhit and Khairagarh, with some Falcons 
belonging, I think, to the Nawab of Rampur. A Shaheen 
trained to keep up in the air at an elevation of about 30 yards, 
circled and hovered above us ; the tract was turfy, with little 
patches of rush and flag, green but not swampy ; the beaters 
walked in a close silent line a few yards in front of us ; three 
Florican were successively flushed, at the very feet of the men, 
and cut down by this one Falcon, almost before the quarry knew 
it was pursued. Several other birds were intermediately flushed, 
and two or three black Partridges killed, but the Falcon never 
attempted to strike at anything that was not flushed quite close, 
so as to be within reach of her direct stoop. 

From Assam I have received a number of most interest- 
ing notes in regard to this species, which are the more welcome 
in that heretofore scarcely anything has been recorded in con- 
nection with the Florican in that Province. 

Colonel Graham writes : — " The Bengal Florican may be said 
to extend throughout the Assam Valley, from the Manas River, 
on the west, to the Mishmi Hills, east of Sadiya, on the 
east 



THE BENGAL FLORTCAN. 2J 

" It is found in greatest numbers in high and dry open lands, 
the places most frequented by it being the large Bishnath 
plain and the higher lands lying between the Government 
Trunk Road on the north of the Brahmaputra, and the hills 
throughout the Darrang districts. 

" North of Mangaldai, in Darrang, about five miles from the 
Bhutan Hills, at a staging bungalow, well named Shikar, I shot 
fourteen Florican in one day. 

" The Florican is also found on the Sadiya plains in fair num- 
bers, and on the chars of the Brahmaputra, but is much 
scarcer on the south bank of that river. 

" On the Bishnath plain and other places in the Darrang 
district, I have seen, I am sure, from 30 to 40 Florican in a day. 

t( In October and November the bird is often found on the 
high strips of ground near to paddy fields, or even in the 
paddy, feeding on its blossom, while later on in January it is 
found in the mornings and evenings in the mustard crops then 
in flower ; but during the day it retires to its favourite high 
lands. 

" Burnt grass lands it also much affects, and while there, I 
have found its crop full of insects, and even little bits of burnt 
grass or seed. 

" Taking Assam as a whole, I should say of the Florican ; — 

" In Darrang, very common. 

" In Kamrup and Goalpara, a good sprinkling. 

" In Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, here and there a fair 
sprinkling, but as a rule scarce." 

Captain C. R. Macgregor remarks: — "The Florican is called 
by the natives the Ooloo Moora, or Peacock of the ooloo grass. 

" In June and July, and sometimes as late as August, I 
have repeatedly witnessed the performance of the ' nuptial 
dance' by the cock-bird in full plumage. The bird rises from 
the ground and hovers with extended wings from 10 to 20 feet 
in the air, and thus attracts the female birds who may be within 
an easy distance. Twice I have noticed this dance in the evening 
after the sun has gone down when returning from shooting under 
the Daphla Hills. The Florican generally breeds in the higher 
plateaux of the Assam Valley, near the foot of the hills. The 
males have been seen also by Major Cock in full plumage in 
the month of May. 

" I have shot Florican beyond Sadiya under the Abar hills, 
on the chars of the Brahmaputra between Sadiya and Pulia, 
notably on the " Lalli Chapori," under the Naga hills in the 
vicinity of Jaipur, near Dibrugarh, on the Bishnath plain, and 
along the whole country extending from Tezpur in the Darrang 
district up to north Lakhimpur. 

" I have noticed that Florican generally seem to come to the 
same place year after year. They generally frequent the 
"ooloo" grass; but I have often found them in the "/kra" after 



28 THE BENGAL FLORICAN. 

it has been burnt, and when fresh herbage has sprung up on 
the burnt portions. 

" On two occasions I have shot birds in a wet rice field when 
I was out Snipe shooting — once in the beginning of October, near 
Dibrugarh, and another time in February, close under the Naga 
hills. 

" I have put up no less than four Florican, all females, with- 
in a radius of 30 yards, but have never put up a cock and hen 
quite close to each other. 

"The first time a bird is disturbed, it will rise almost im- 
mediately, but afterwards it becomes very wary, and generally 
runs a long distance. I have known birds to lie quite close, and 
allow a line of elephants to pass them, and then get up behind 
the line. As a rule, birds, when first flushed, always settle within 
sight. 

" I have shot well grown young birds in December, and that 
without putting up others anywhere near them, so I fancy the 
young leave the mother before this. All the young that I have 
seen have been in female plumage." 

Mr. Anley says: — "The real home of the Florican is in the 
Bhutan Duars. They are there found in the standing crops of 
rice, and when these are cut, they retreat to the numerous 
patches of short fine ooloo grass, from which they derive their 
trivial name. In February and March they still keep to the ooloo 
grass, but near water, which becomes scarce about this time, and 
where the stunted cardamom, of which they are very fond, is found. 

" They are very common in the Duars, and a beat through 
a patch of ooloo grass, however small, is pretty safe to turn 
out at least one. I have seen as many as twenty together of a 
morning." 

Writing from the Naga hills, Mr. Damant says: — "The Florican 
is not found in this district, but I have seen it in the low ground 
and chars which lie along the foot of the Ga.ro hills, where it 
is common, and where eight or ten may often be bagged in a 
morning, but it is rather shy there, and must be stalked on foot. I 
have also seen the Florican in the south of Dinagepore and in the 
Maldah district, but it is not very abundant in either of these 
places. 

" I may add that the Florican is unknown in Manipur." 

Col. Comber writes : — " The Florican occurs throughout Assam, 
but they are not so plentiful in the upper as in the central and 
lower districts, probably owing to there being more forests 
and less grass jungle in the former than in the latter. 

" In many places they are very common, and ten or more are 
killed in a single day. 

" The Florican breeds with us, and the young birds begin to 
fly about, by the end of August or early in September. 

" In the early part of the cold season one sees little of the bird, 
but later on they are more easily met with. They then resort 



THE BENGAL FLORICAN. 29 

to the Chapori land, and are found in mustard fields, where they 
find many insects, especially when the mustard is in flower. 
When this is cut, low grass jungle, known in Assam as the 
ooloo grass, is their favourite haunt, especially where the grass 
has been burnt and the young shoots are sprouting freely." 



As TO the nidiflcation of this species, I again quote Mr. 
Hodgson : — 

" The Florican is neither polygamous nor monogamous, nor 
migratory nor solitary. These birds dwell permanently and 
always breed in the districts they frequent, and they dwell also 
socially, but with a rigorous separation of the sexes, such as I 
fancy is paralleled in no other species. Four to eight are 
always found in the same vicinity, though seldom very close 
together, and the males are invariably and entirely apart from 
the females after they have grown up. Even in the season of 
love, the intercourse of the sexes among adults is quite transitory, 
and is conducted without any of that jealousy and pugnacity' 34 ' 
which so eminently distinguish most birds at that period. 

" In the season of love, the troops of males and females come 
into the same neighbourhood, but without mixing. A male 
that is amorously disposed steps forth, and by a variety of very 
singular proceedings, quite analogous to human singing and 
dancing, recommends himself to the neighbouring bevy of 
females. He rises perpendicularly in the air, humming in a 
deep peculiar tone and flapping his wings. He lets himself sink 
after he has risen some fifteen or twenty yards ; and again he 
rises and again falls in the same manner, and with the same 
strange utterance, and thus perhaps five or six times, when one 
of the females steps forward, and with her he commences a 
courtship in the manner of a Turkey cock, by trailing his wings 
and raising and spreading his tail, humming all the time as before. 

" When thus, with what I must call song and dance, the rites 
of Hymen have been duly performed, the male retires to his 
company and the female to hers ; nor is there any appearance 
(I have at some cost had the birds watched most closely) of 
further or more enduring intimacy between the sexes than that 
just recorded, nor any evidence that the male ever lends his aid 
to the female in the tasks of incubation and of rearing the young. 

" The procreative instinct having been satisfied, the female 
retires into deep grass cover, and there, at the root of a thick 
tuft of grass, with very little semblance of a nest, she deposits 
two eggs, never more or less, unless the first be destroyed. If 

* Blyth denies this peaceful disposition, and says that not only do the males fight 
in captivity, but that an experienced sportsman, who had shot many, assured him 
that he had come upon two males fighting desperately and so eagerly that, upon 
being disturbed, they renewed their conflict at a short distance, and thus allowed him 
to bag both. This has often happened to me where Black Buck were concerned, but 
I have never had the luck thus to catch Florican, 



30 THE BENGAL FLORICAN. 

the eggs be handled in her absence, she is sure to discover it 
and to destroy them herself. The eggs are of the size and 
shape of an ordinary domestic fowl's, but one generally larger 
and more richly coloured than the other. 

" The female sits on her eggs about a month, and the young 
can follow her very soon after they chip the egg. In a month 
they are able to fly ; and they remain with the mother for 
nearly a year, or till the procreative impulse again is felt by her, 
when she drives off the long-since fully grown young. Two 
females commonly breed near each other, whether for company 
or mutual aid and help ; and thus the coveys, — so to speak, 
though they are not literally such,— are usually found to consist 
of four to six birds. The Florican breeds but once a year in 
June-July, that is, the eggs are then laid, and the young hatch- 
ed in July-August. 

" The eggs, about the size of those of a Bantam, 2 inches long 
by I J inch broad, are of a sordid stramineous hue, very minute- 
ly dotted and more largely blotched and clouded with black, 
somewhat as in Lobivaiiellus indicus or the Indian Lapwing." 

I have never yet succeeded in obtaining an egg of this species, 
but they have been described to me as closely resembling those 
of the Likh, or Lesser Florican (fully described under that 
species), but considerably larger and varying from 2 to 2*5 in 
length, and from 1*5 to i*8 in breadth. 



I HAVE shot but few of these Florican since I took to measur- 
ing birds, and have but few dimensions recorded. Three young 
but nearly full grown males measured — 

Length, 24 to 26 ; expanse, 41 to 45 ; wing, 13*5 to 1375 ; 
tail, &8y to 7*25 ; tarsus, 6*12 to 675 ; bill to gape, 2^25 to 
2*5. Weight, 3-25 to 375 lbs. 

A friend sends the measurements of a single bird, an adult 
male, which agree closely with those given by Jerdon : — 

Male. — Length, 27 ; expanse, 46 ; wing, 1475 ; tarsus, 
6'25 ; tail, 7-5 ; bill at front, 1*3. Weight, 3 lbs. (!) 

The females are said to be, and probably are, larger in this 
species, and Jerdon gives the dimensions as : — Length, 28 to 29 ; 
expanse, 50. Weight, 4 lbs to even 5 lbs. But four, apparently, 
adult females which I measured were much smaller, vis. : — 

Length, 26 to 27 ; expanse, 43 to 48 ; wing, 14 to 1475 ; 
tail, 7*25 to 775 ; tarsus, &S7 to 675 ; bill to gape, 2*5 to 
275. Weight, 3*5 to 4^5 lbs. 

The irides have certainly been yellow, varying from very 
pale to almost golden in all the many birds that I have shot, 
but Jerdon says they are brown ; the legs are dirty straw- 
colour ; the bill dusky bluish above, bluish grey to yellowish 
below, and somewhat fleshy brown towards gape. 



THE BENGAL FLORICAN. 3 1 

The Plate, taken from one of Mr. Hodgson's drawings, 
very accurately represents a male in breeding plumage, and a 
female or young male ; but the bills are not rightly coloured, the 
breast plumes of the male are almost jet black and not grey,* 
and that female, absolutely faultless as regards plumage, would 
have looked more natural if she had not been depicted with 
both her legs on the off-side. 

* Of course this grey shade is intended to represent the slightly greyish appear- 
ance which the feathers assume under a side light, but, unfortunately, this has been 
grossly exaggerated by the artist. 



<$%&&&/ 




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toi liiiii puiiun ii tut 



Sypheotides aurita, Latham. 



V©rnaCXllar 1T&E1©S. — [Ker mor, Guzerat ; Tun mor, Deccan and Marathi 
Districts; Chini mor, Belgaum ; Khartitar, B heels ; Likh, Chota Charat, 
N. W. Provinces ; Charas, Chulla Charas, Southern India ; Kannoul, (Cana- 
rese) ; Niala nimili, (Telugu) ; Wurragu Koli, (Tamil) ; Bursati, or Kala 
Tugder, Rohtak, Gurgaon.} 




FIND great difficulty in defining the limits within which 
the Lesser Florican occurs ; firstly, because it is irre- 
gularly migratory, and secondly, because individual 
birds straggle in the most unaccountable manner 
hundreds of miles beyond the furthest districts which 
it at all regularly visits. 

Dr. Jerdon tells us that " this species is found 
throughout India, from near the foot of the Himalayas to the 
southernmost districts ;" but this conveys, I think, a somewhat 
erroneous idea of its distribution, which is not nearly so wide as 
this might seem to imply. 

Although a certain number are probably permanent residents 
of Khandesh, Nasik and Ahmednagar, the real home of the 
Lesser Florican is in the drier portions of the Peninsula lying 
east of the Western Ghats, and south and east of the Goda- 
vari.* 

It is, of course, confined to plains and open country, and does 
not ascend acy of the hills, though a single specimen was once 
killed, I hear, on the slopes of the Nilgiris between Neddiwat- 
tum and Pykarra, going down to the Wynad. 

During the rains when it breeds, although many breed in the 
Deccan, as, for instance, about Sholapur, the majority, I think, 
move northwards and westwards, extending over the western 
parts of the Central Provinces, the Central India Agency, the 
southern and central portions of Rajputana, Khandesh, 
Guzerat, Cutch, Kathiawar and Southern Sindf. 

The migration is, however, irregular, as in some years it 
extends much further than in others. The birds are plentiful in 
one year, where in the next none or very few are to be met with. 

* Even in the winter, however, stragglers will be found far outside the limits thus 
indicated, e.g., below the ghats in S. Canara, (Jerdon) and in Ratnagiri and Dapoli, 
Southern Konkan (G. Vidal), in Sambalpur (one shot at Sohela, nth January), in 
the Meerut district (two shot at Ghazi-ud-din-Nagar, in December) &c. , &c. 

t A few couple are annually shot in August, on the Moach plain, near Kurrachee, 
and other similar localities within a circle of 20 or. 30 miles of that station. 

5 



34 THE LESSER FLORICAN OR LIKH. 

In years when the rainfall is plentiful, they are pretty com- 
mon during the monsoon a little south of Delhi in Rohtak and 
Gurgaon. Generally, there are a good many about Jhansi and 
so on, but, except as stragglers, they are not found in those parts 
of the country that I know further north than a line joining Sirsa 
and Delhi, nor do they cross the Jumna in any numbers. 

Although I have known single specimens killed near Luck- 
now, Sultanpur, and other places in Oudh ; though I have 
myself shot single birds occasionally in the Meerut and Etawah 
districts ; though Ball got a specimen in Sirguja, Hodgson 
others in the valley of Nepal* ; though Jerdon says he has 
known of their occurrence in Purneah, and Parker tells me they 
have occurred in Nuddea ; though one specimen has been killed 
on the Mekran coast near Gwader, and another at Sandoway in 
Arakan, I do not, as at present informed, consider that either 
Beluchistan, the Punjab, the North-Western Provinces, north 
and east of the Jumna, Oudh, Chota Nagpore or any part of 
Bengal, or the countries eastwards, can be properly included 
within its normal range. 

It occurs nowhere out of India. 



The black plumage assumed by the male in the breeding 
season (so different from its brown cold weather suit, which is 
like the female's,) and its migratory habits (sportsmen in one 
place never meeting with black males, and in others seeing none 
but these) led in past times to the belief that there were two 
distinct species. Jerdon, however, conclusively disposed of this 
error, and it is needless perhaps to allude further to it here. 

Slightly undulating plains, covered by patches of grass and 
low scrub jungle, are the favourite haunts of the Likh, but 
during the cold season they are often found feeding in millet 
fields and others in which the crops are not too high or dense. 

Owing to the unsportsmanlike manner in which these 
beautiful birds are massacred during the breeding season, they 
are everywhere diminishing perceptibly in numbers, and will, in 
another half century, be, I fear, almost extinct, 

Mr. Davidson writes : — " The Lesser Florican is much com- 
moner than the Bustard in the Deccan, but it also is diminishing 
very fast, and in Sholapur we could notice a diminution yearly." 

And so write a dozen others, who still stick to the infamous 
poaching so universally practised. Get them in the cold season 
in short grass or springing crops, young wheat about a foot 
high for instance, and they are about the most difficult bird I 
know to get near. In fact, on several occasions I have found it 

* At the same time I am bound to say that Mr. Hodgson, in a MS. note on this 
species, says : "Appears here (Valley of Nepal) about middle of May and disappears 
middle of June." I do not gather that he got many specimens, but whence could 
these birds come in May and June ? Not from Southern India. It may be that there 
is a permanent colony of this species, of which I know nothing as yet, in Nor- 
thern Behar, Gorakhpur, Basti, &c. 



THE LESSER FLORICAN OR LIKH. 35 

impossible to shoot them in any other way than by lying down 
behind some bush, and having them driven over me. There is 
some little sport in shooting them thus, but as for the common 
practice of butchering breeding birds, it is a disgrace to our 
country, which all true sportsmen should band together to sup- 
press. Captain Butler writes : — " For my part, I have always 
protested against the wholesale destruction of these fine birds in 
the breeding season, and tried very hard, when I was in Deesa, to 
persuade sportsmen (!) to spare the hens. But it was of no use ; 
they argued that, ' if they didn't shoot them, some one else 
would/ and consequently the Florican were shown no mercy. 

" The usual method of shooting them is to walk them up in 
line, when they rise usually within easy shot. They are easily 
killed, and I have seen longer shots made at Florican than any 
other bird 1 know. In fact they drop if you fire at them 
at almost any possible distance (provided, of course, you 
hold the gun straight). At times, however, after being marked 
down, they are very difficult to find, as they commence running 
the moment they alight, and often get 200 or 300 yards away 
before you reach the spot where you have marked them down. 
But for this, scarcely a bird would escape. 

" In the breeding season the cock birds, for some conjugal 
reason, indulge in an amusement called ' jumping,' and it is 
in this way that their whereabouts are usually discovered. 

" Shikaris go out and watch the grass preserves in the 
early mornings from some elevated spot, and can tell almost 
to a single bird how many Florican there are on the ground. 

"The operation of 'jumping' is as follows: About every 
quarter of an hour, sometimes oftener, the cock birds suddenly 
rise up out of the grass to a height of six or seven feet, utter a 
peculiar croak, and descend into the grass again with out- 
spread wings, making a drumming sound as they descend. 
Unless disturbed, they always remain about the same spot, so 
that, by sending a ' shikari' to mark them down in the early 
morning when they are 'jumping/ you know exactly where to 
find them in the day time. 

" About Deesa eight to nine brace in a day was, I think, the 
largest bag that was made during the three years I was there, 
but in Kathiawar, about Rajkot, bags of as many as eighteen 
and twenty brace are occasionally still made in a day." 

Mr. James says : — " The ordinary way in which a single gun 
pursues Florican is to walk through the grass, with a few beaters,, 
listening for the cry of the bird and following it ; in this, 
way the bird can be tracked for a considerable distance. 
Before very long the bird will be seen jumping up above the 
long grass, as some think to pick grasshoppers off the stems. The 
best way then is to run as hard as possible up to the place 
when the bird will rise. They drop very easily to shot, but when 
once flushed are difficult to flush again. 



36 THE LESSER FLORICAN OR LIKH. 

" The largest bag I ever knew of was one of ten couple 
shot by four guns in the Eklagan Kuran, near Dharangaon, in 
Khandesh. 

" Pardis, the professional poachers* of the Deccan, snare 
them along with Partridges and Quail, simply by setting a 
rope of snares down the grassy bank of a dry nalla and then 
beating the bushes. 

" It is perfectly true that sometimes the effects caused by eating 
Florican's flesh after they have been feeding on blisterflies are 
most painful and disagreeable. I myself have suffered from this 
cause." 

As a bird for the table (setting aside exceptional cases like 
this), they vary very much ; they are never to be compared, 
I think, to a fine Bengal Florican, and I have often found them 
dry and hard, much like a Blue Pigeon. 

Mr. Davidson says :— < u Florican are found sparingly in Mysore, 
but I only saw one on two occasions in the Tumkur district, 
during last year. It is a migrant during the rains to 
Western Guzerat, where it is remorselessly shot down while breed- 
ing, but apparently avoids the Panch Mahals almost entirely ; 
at least only one specimen has been secured there during the 
last few years. 

" They are ordinarily shot in the Deccan in the long grass 
bhirs, being flushed by a line of beaters, the guns walking 
along with the beaters. In the breeding season the cocks are 
sometimes shot in the following way : — In the early morning 
the gunner, for one can hardly call him a sportsman, goes to a 
bhir, where he knows there are birds, and waits tell he sees one 
jump up in the grass and cry. He then stalks within 50 or 
60 yards, and again waits till the bird jumps and then runs 
as fast as he can towards the spot. The bird generally rises 
30 or 40 yards off, and there is a fair amount of excitement, if 
not of sport, in shooting them this way." 

Dr. Jerdon says : — " I have found the cock bird commencing 
to assume the black plumage at the end of April, and have killed 
them with the black ear-tuft just beginning to sprout, hardly 
any other black feathers having appeared. In other instances, 
I have noticed that these ear-tufts did not make their appearance 
till the bird was quite mottled with black. The full and perfect 
breeding plumage is generally completed during July and 
August. At this season the male bird generally takes up a 
position on some rising ground (from which it wanders but 
little for many days even), and during the morning specially, 
but in cloudy weather at all times of the day, every now and then 
rises a few feet perpendicularly into the air, uttering at the same 
time a peculiar croaking call, more like that of a frog or cricket 
than that of a bird, and then drops down again. This is probably 

* Not half such bad poachers, I submit, as the English gentlemen who slaughter 
game birds, male and female, in the middle of the breeding season. 



THE LESSER FLORICAN OR LIKH. 37 

intended to attract the females, who, before their eggs are laid, 
wander greatly, or perhaps to summon a rival cock ; for I have 
seen two in such desperate fight as to allow me to approach 
within thirty yards before they ceased their battle." 

I note that at all times, when alarmed, they seem to utter 
this croak, which somewhat reminds one of that of the corn 
crake, but not in so deep a tone as when nautching. Some 
sportsmen have fancied that the upward spring of male birds 
(and though I have seen females jump, the spring has not thesame 
character as when the males do it) is made in pursuit of flies, 
but (as was remarked by Mr. Davidson, C.S.) I have no doubt 
that it is part of the regular nuptial performance. 

He says : — " The Florican breeds all round Sholapur, in con- 
siderable numbers, wherever there are grass preserves with long 
grass. During the breeding season they seem chiefly to haunt the 
thinnest patches of long grass, rather than those full of small 
bushes ; they are at this period exceedingly difficult to flush, 
particularly the hens, which, even if you succeed in forcing them 
to rise, get up only at your very feet and make but very short 
flights. The cocks are not quite so difficult to flush, but you are 
obliged to run towards them, to get even them up : if you 
simply walk after them, they will rarely rise. Their whereabouts 
are, however, generally easily discovered by their frog-like call, 
and their occasional sudden jumps up into the air. They do 
not seem to call much when the sun is bright, but chiefly in the 
morning and during cloudy days. I have often watched them 
flying or jumping up, but I am still uncertain why they do it. 
My original impression was, that they sprung up to seize 
insects from the grass stalks, but I have long abandoned this 
idea, as they rise much above the grass. Moreover, I have only 
seen one bird thus rise that could have been a female, and this 
was dark-coloured, and probably a male that had not assumed 
breeding plumage, and I am inclined to consider these sudden 
flights as simply one of those bridal displays so common in the 
males, especially of gallinaceous birds, such as the flapping of the 
wings in Pheasants, the nautch of the Peacock, the lek of the 
Capercailzie, and the pouch-inflated strut of the big Bustard, 
and if it can be certainly established that this habit is confined 
to the males,* no alternative solution seems open to us." 

The Lesser Florican, according to my experience, feeds 
largely on vegetable substances, berries, green shoots of grain, 
grasses, and all kinds of herbs, but it also eats insects in abund- 
ance, especially grasshoppers and the glittering cantharides, 
and, Jerdon says,*f* beetles, centipedes and even small lizards. 

* And let me add, the males in the breeding season, which I believe to be the fact. 

+ Hodgson notes : " Stomachs full of grylli, thin coated small beetles, fireflies, 
and gorgeous gadflies. Comes" (into the Nepal Valley) " when the wheat 
ripens in April and May ; leaves in the heavy rain in July, when the valley is flooded 
It resides in the ripe corn and green, dry or hill" (t. e., non -irrigated) " rice. It 
eats chiefly grylli and a few aromatic weed tops and sesamum buds." 



38 THE LESSER FLORICAN OR LIKH. 

It more habitually erects its tail than any other species of 
Bustard that I know, and Jerdon is quite correct in saying that, 
as a rule, " walking or running it raises its tail, the lateral 
feathers diverging downwards, while those of the centre are the 
most elevated, as is seen in domestic fowls, &c." 

Its flight much resembles that of the larger Bengal species, 
but it is, I think, rather more rapid and not so strong. 

I have never myself seen it hawked, but should fancy it 
would fall an easy prey to a good Shaheen or Peregrine. 
Jerdon says he has hawked it both with F.jugger and the 
Shaheen, and that on one occasion he had slipped a Falcon 
at one, when the Falcon, though in hot pursuit, being a little 
behind, a pair of the Common Eagle {A. vindhiand) came down 
from a vast height and joined in the pursuit. One of them 
made a headlong sweep at it, which the Florican skilfully 
avoided, but only to fall a victim to the other which stooped 
almost immediately after its confederate, and dashed the quarry 
lifeless to the ground with its back laid open for its whole length. 
One of the very few specimens I obtained in the Etawah dis- 
trict was killed in a similar manner by a Bonelli's Eagle (which 
I shot) within 30 yards of me, and before I had had time to 
fire at the Florican, which rose quite unexpectedly out of a 
small patch of grass into which I had fired after a scuttling hare. 

The majority of the birds lay in September and October, 
and in the regions into which I have already stated that they 
migrate during the rains, but some still remain to breed in all 
parts of Southern India, and a considerable number in the 
Deccan, and Jerdon says : " I have put the hen bird off her nest 
in August in the Deccan, and in October near Trichinopoly, and 
have heard of the hen having been found incubating still later, 
up to January indeed. 

As to the nests, they are mere depressions, often mere spaces, 
between tufts of grass. 

Mr. Wenden, writing to me of two nests that he took, says : 
" One nest was placed between the roots of several tufts of 
tussock grass growing in black soil, and in the intermediate 
space, the soil not being held up and protected by roots had 
been washed out or had sunk from the effects of rain, and thus 
a natural basin had been formed. In this the bird had excavated 
a saucer-shaped hole, perhaps four inches deep and nine inches 
in diameter, the bottom of which was bare. Round the edges 
was a slight fringe of grass, which had not so much the appear- 
ance of having been placed there by the bird for any purpose, 
as it had of being simply scraped away from the actual sitting 
place. The nest contained three eggs. 

" The other nest, taken on the 19th September, was the only 
one which I had an opportunity of watching. The eggs were 
deposited on the bare ground, which was perfectly level (without 



THE LESSER FLORICAN OR LIKH. 39 

the least signs even of scratching), in some thin scanty grass, 
about two feet high, and about two yards in from the edge of the 
grass patch. Not a hundred yards from the plot of grass in 
which the eggs were deposited was a preserve, over half a mile 
long by a quarter broad, of very high dense grass, a far more likely 
place, one would have thought, for so wary a bird to lay its eggs. 

i( On the 1 6th, I went out and watched this bird for more 
than an hour, just about the time at which she had been flushed 
on the morning before from the single egg. From the tree on 
which I sat, with my binoculars, I saw her running rapidly out 
of the dense preserve, across the open and into the scanty patch 
in which was her egg. Here she moved about for some minutes 
feeding, and every now and then she sprung into the air with 
a low clucking cry, which was answered by the male bird from 
the preserve, though at first I could not see him. Then, as 
though a sudden thought had struck her, she darted to the nest, 
and after one or two springs, and walking round and round the 
e gg> sne squatted and deposited another. While she sat, she 
was quite silent, but the male bird, who had now advanced closer 
to me, kept springing in the air and crying continually. The 
operation of laying the egg seemed to last about twenty 
minutes, — i. e., from the time she sat to the time she rose — 
and having made another spring or two and walked round the eggs 
she then made straight tracks for the dense grass where the 
male bird was calling. 

" I went out quite alone on this watching expedition, and all 
was quite quiet, and the birds were at their ease ; but while I 
was still in the tree, a man came into the preserve with some 
cattle, and then I saw both birds spring several times silently, 
and after that I saw or heard nothing of them." 

On the 1 8th another egg was laid, but on the 19th, finding 
still only three, Wenden shot both parents and took the eggs. 
Three or four is the usual complement, but Lieut. F. Alexander 
says that they sometimes lay five, and Mr. James writes that 
he " once shot a hen Florican and picked up from where she rose 
five young ones just able to run, two of which were carried 
home, one soon died, but the other was successfully brought 
up on grasshoppers till it was fully fledged. It was very tame, 
and ran about the poultry yard fearlessly. Unfortunately it was 
accidentally killed just after attaining maturity." 

The eggs, like those of the Great Bustard (which, though 
smaller, they greatly resemble), vary much in size, shape, and 
colouration. 

Typically they are very broad ovals, with a feeble tendency 
to a point at one end ; but some are nearly spherical, some are 
purely oval, while one or two approach a Plover shape. 

The shell, everywhere closely pitted with minute pores, is 
stout, but smooth, and has always a slight, and at times a bril- 
liant, gloss. 



40 THE LESSER FLORICAN OR LIKH. 

The ground colour varies from a clear, almost sap green, 
through various shades of olive green, drab and stone colours, 
to a darkish olive brown. I have seen no specimens exhibiting 
the blue and bluish grounds occasionally met with in the eggs 
of the Great Indian Bustard. 

The markings are brown, reddish or olive brown, occasionally 
with a purplish tinge, in some very faint and feeble, obsolete, or 
nearly so, a mere mottling ; in others conspicuous and strongly 
marked ; but in the majority neither very faint nor very conspi- 
cuous. In character they are generally cloudy streaks, more or 
less confluent at the broader end (from which they run down 
parallel to the major axis), and more or less obsolete towards 
the smaller end. Occasionally, however, they are pretty uni- 
formly scattered over the whole surface of the egg. 

In size, the eggs vary from 177 to 2*06 in length, and from 
1 5 to 17 in breadth ; but the average of twenty-three eggs is 
1 '88 nearly, by rather more than 1*59. 



This SPECIES varies much in size, probably a good deal accord- 
ing to age, the females being all markedly larger than the males. 
Some dimensions are :— 

Male. — Length, 17*25 to 19 ; expanse, 27*5 to 32 ; wing (to 
end of longest primary), J"$ to 7*9 ; tail, 4-1 to 4-5 ; tarsus, 
3-65 to 3*9 ; bill from gape, 2 to 2*1. Weight, 14 ozs. to 1 lb. 
4 ozs. 

Female. — Length, 18 to 21*3 ; expanse, 29 to 36 ; wing, 9*0 
to 975 ; tail, 47 to 5 ; tarsus, 3-9 to 4*4 ; bill from gape, 2*28 to 
2'^. Weight, 1 lb. 2 ozs. to 1 lb. 10 ozs. 

The irides are dull yellow, sometimes very pale, sometimes 
brownish ; the legs pale, somewhat fleshy yellow, sometimes 
hoary, sometimes more dusky ; the bill is pale yellow, some- 
what fleshy towards gape ; the ridge, tip, and more or less of the 
upper surface shaded with dusky horny brown. 

A young nestling is thus described by Mr. J. Davidson : — 
" Three young Florican, one only half out of the egg f were 
brought to me yesterday (25th October). An almost uniform 
dirty pale yellow colour, with an unclosed V (i. e., \/) on the 
crown of the head in dingy black, and blotches, rather stripy, 
of black on wings, back, and sides, and about the ears ; legs 
and beak, a colour between pale blue and pale pink ; and on the 
tip of the beak a little lump of pale pearly white." 

In both sexes, but it is more marked in the male, the earlier 
primaries are very sharply pointed, and have the terminal one- 
third greatly narrowed by a sudden emargination. 



The Plate, but for chromo-lithography, which brings out 
the markings of the female too coarse and blotchy, would 
be all that could be desired. The male in breeding plumage 



THE LESSER FLORICAN OR LIKH. 41 

is very good. In winter the plumage of the male resembles 
that of the female. 

Note, that in the fullest breeding plumage, the males gener- 
ally have the ear tufts longer, and have the whole upper surface, 
and especially the tail, darker and less rufescent than in the 
specimen figured. 

Also, that in the females the upper surface is often much 
darker, the bufify margins of the feathers being reduced to 
mere lines. 



That the Bustards are originally an African family is patent, 
since at least 20 (and possibly 22) species, other than those 
with which we have dealt, are already known from that 
Continent. 

Still, as will have been seen, both tarda and tetrax might be 
classed rather as Palaearctic than African ; three species are 
peculiar to India, of which one extends to the very eastern- 
most limits of Assam, and, strange to say, one species, very 
closely allied to our Great Indian Bustard, occurred, some fifty 
years ago, almost throughout Australia, though now extinct, or 
nearly so, in the more densely inhabited portions of the country. 



We have now to deal with the Sand-Grouse, and in the first 
instance, with the feathered-footed section of these, which 
constitutes the genus Syrrhaptes. Only two species of this 
genus are known — the Thibetan bird, which we shall discuss 
immediately, and 5. paradoxus. This latter species " ranges 
from the plains of Pekin and Tientsin, through Mongolia and 
the Great Gobi Desert into the Kirgiz Steppes, occasionally 
wandering into parts of Western Europe in more or less con- 
siderable numbers. The year 1863 was notable for a great 
western migration of this species, flocks of considerable size 
having been observed even in Ireland."* 



* D. G. Elliot. 



Syrrhaptes tibetanus, Gould. 



Vernacular Names.— [Kuk, Ladak.] 




T is in the semi-desert Alpine tracts of Ladak and 
the upper portions of the Sutlej valley alone that 
this splendid species (so far as is yet known) occurs 
within our limits. I have seen numbers on the 
Roopshoo plains, about the head of the Pangong 
Lake, about the Tso-Mourari, and the Tso-Khar, 
and in the country further east towards Hanle. 
Biddulph . says : — " We first saw this at Chagra (the first halt 
above the Pangong) in September, at an elevation of nearly 
15,000 feet, where it was common and tame. We found it 
flying about in flocks of from three to ten on the hill side above 
the camp. In getting into the Chang Chenmo Valley again, 
two days later, we saw it at an elevation of about 15,000 
feet. 

" On the return journey, this time in June, I found them very 
tame and plentiful nearly at the top of the Karakorum Pass, 
say at an elevation of fully 18,000 feet." 

All these localities are inside the Ladak boundaries, of 
which Shahidulla is considered the frontier post. 

Wilson writes to me : — " On the water-shed range crossing 
from our Mussooree Hills into Thibet, you come across them at 
once, and they are common enough from thence eastwards up 
the Sutlej Valley." 

I do not think that it elsewhere comes within our limits. It 
does not occur in Sikhim, nor, so far as I have been able to 
learn, in Nepal or Kumaun, but it certainly occurs in Thibet just 
north of both these provinces, and Blanford says that the 
Governor of Kambajong presented him with four live birds 
obtained just north of the Sikhim frontier in Eastern Thibet. 

Outside our limits, it probably extends eastwards through- 
out the lofty plateaux north of the Himalayas to the borders 
of the Chinese Province of Kansu, as Prjevalski obtained it 
at the Kokonor ; probably it extends equally westwards in 
suitable high regions. Just outside the Ladak frontier, and 
the range through which the Karakorum leads, Cayley shot 
some near Kizil-jilga on the upper Kara Kash. Others were 
seen some 20 miles south of Malik Shah, and Biddulph saw 



44 THE THIBETAN SAND-GROUSE. 

a flock of about 20 on the Pamir on the 2nd of May, at an 
elevation of 13,500 feet and shot four. 

Yarkand Proper is too low for this species, but Biddulph 
thought he twice saw flocks flying overhead, once between 
Kooshtak and Oitograk, and on the other occasion between 
Kizzil and Kokrobat in the desert. 



I DO not think that I have ever met with this species at elevations 
above 17,000 or below 12,000 feet, but I have, of course, only seen 
it between 1st June and 15th September and during the colder 
months it may descend lower. 

Although it keeps on barren and desolate steppes, in the 
neighbourhood often of rocky ranges, / have never seen it 
(the experience of others seems to be different^ on these or on 
steep hill sides, and I have always noticed that there was sure 
to be some water, fresh or brackish, within a reasonable distance 
of its feeding ground. 

In the morning and afternoon it moves about on the more 
or less undulating semi-desert plains, feeding on grass and 
other seeds and berries, and any young green shoots it can find. 
During the middle of the day it squats about, especially if the 
day be hot, basking in the sun, very generally scratching for 
itself a small depression in the soil. 

Both when feeding and taking its siesta, it is not uncommonly 
in considerable flocks (I have seen several hundreds together) ; 
but in summer, at any rate, it is perhaps more common to meet 
with it in little parties of from three to twenty. Whilst feeding*, 
it trots about more rapidly and easily* than its short feather- 
encased legs and feet would lead one to suppose ; individuals 
continually flying up and alighting a few yards further on, and 
now and again the whole flock rising and flying round, 
apparently without reason or aim. 

Sometimes it is very shy, especially in the early mornings and 
evenings ; and though it will not, unless repeatedly fired at, fly 
far, it will yet not let you approach within 100 yards ; but, as a 
rule, during the heat of the day, you may walk right in 
amongst them. They are precisely the colour of the sand when 
basking, and often the first notice you have of their proximity 
is the sudden patter of their many wings as they rise and dart 
away, and the babel of their cries, which, if the flock be a 
large one, is really startling for a moment. Once up, they 
are off and away with a rapidity that takes a good shot, and 
a hard-hitting gun to deal with satisfactorily, but they rarely 
at mid-day go far ; and if the sun is bright, you may get shot 
after shot out of the same party by following them up. 

* Prjevalski, I see, says it runs clumsily and slowly, generally forming a line. 
I have watched it dozens of times, and never saw it form any special line. 
Indeed, a flock is usually irregularly dotted about on a plot one or two acres in extent, 
and as to clumsiness, if the ground be smooth (rough ground, of course, bothers 
its short legs) it moves quite easily. 



THE THIBETAN SAND-GROUSE. 45 

Early in the morning, and quite at dusk, they come down 
to the water to drink ; by preference to fresh water, but, as at 
the Tso-Khar, at times to quite brackish water. 

They are always noisy birds when moving about, uttering a 
call something like guk, guk, to my ear, or again, as some people 
syllable it, " yak-yak," " caga-caga," &c, &c, but they are 
specially noisy in the evenings, when they come down to drink ; 
and quite late in the evening, when wearied with the day's 
tramp in those high regions, dinner discussed, and the peaceful 
pipe achieved, one turns in for the night, their characteristic 
double cry may still be heard round the tents, pitched always, 
of course, when possible, near water. 

It is many years since Mountaineer personally dealt with this 
species, and all he can now remember of their habits is, that they 
" are met with in pairs, sometimes singly, and also in flocks of 
half a dozen or a dozen, on the hills and upland plains, at from 
14,000 to 17,000 feet. They lie close till one gets within 50 or 
100 yards, and then fly up with the usual chuckle, generally 
alighting again at no very great distance." 

Nothing more seems known of the bird. 

That they breed on the high plains of Ladak I am quite 
certain, but I have never seen the eggs, nor has my friend, 
Mr. Wilson, been able of late years to procure any for me. 

In the old days when I used to shoot them, I cared little for 
birds and never measured them ; so that the few measurements 
I have to record I owe to others. 

Ma/es. —Length, 18 to 20; expanse, 29 to 31; wing, 9*9 to 
10*5 ; tail ( according to development of central feathers), 75 
to 9-5 ; tarsus (which, even in the fresh bird, it is very hard to 
measure), i*i to 1*3 ; bill from forehead to tip, 074 to 078. 

Females. — Length, 16*5 to 18 ; expanse, 27 to 28 ; wing, 97 
to 9-9 ; tail, yo to 8-4 ; tarsus, ri ; bill, as before, 072 to 073. 

The dimensions of the females are taken from only two 
specimens, which were so sexed by the collector, but it has 
occurred to me that they may be only young males, which, 
however, doubtless agree in plumage with the female. 

The Plate {male in foreground— fetnale in rear) is a poor 
thing ; conveying, if held at some distance, a general concep- 
tion of the species, but ill-coloured, the legs and lower surface of 
the male being really much whiter ; and, in the case of the 
female, a sketchy scratch, altogether ignoring all the more 
delicate markings and pencillings of the plumage, so much so 
that I think it necessary to append a detailed description. 

DESCRIPTION. — Bill and nails bluish horny ; soles whitish. 

Plumage, Male. — Lores and forehead whitish, faintly tinged 
with buff, and dark shafted ; crown, occiput, and nape white, 



46 THE THIBETAN SAND-GROUSE. 

closely and somewhat irregularly barred with blackish brown ; 
chin, throat, cheeks, ear-coverts, sides and front of neck, and 
a narrow band across the back of the neck (not shown in 
Gould's figure, and wanting in some specimens, but very con- 
spicuous in most adult males) bright buffy yellow in the breed- 
ing season ; white tinged with the same colour in the winter ; 
lower part of the back of the neck, upper back and upper 
breast white, slightly tinged vinaceous with close regular narrow 
transverse blackish brown bars ; the whole mantle, including 
the scapulars and tertiaries, vinaceous fawn colour, brightening to 
rufous buff along its (the mantle's) exterior margin, with large 
conspicuous black blotches on the inner webs of the scapulars, 
and everywhere excessively finely vermiculated with blackish 
brown, which is scarcely perceptible without close examination 
except on the upper back and towards the tips of the elongated 
tertials ; the lower back and rump are white, very beautifully 
vermiculated with dark somewhat greyish brown ; upper tail- 
coverts similar, but the ground colour tinged with rufous fawn ; 
central tail feathers with the basal portions similar to the upper 
tail-coverts, but with a slightly more vinaceous tinge and 
with the elongated attenuated portions, which in fine males are 
at least five inches in length, black with a slaty bloom on them. 
Primaries and their greater coverts black, with a slaty bloom 
on them towards the tips, the hinder ones with a more or less 
extensive buffy white patch on the inner web at the tip. Se- 
condaries black, but with more or less of the outer webs (less 
in the earlier— more in the later ones) similar in colour to the 
tertiaries. Lateral tail feathers bright rufous buff, tipped with 
pure white and with several widely separated, moderately broad, 
more or less cuneiform transverse black bars. Lower breast 
grey ; abdomen, sides, flanks, vent, tibial and tarsal plumes and 
shortest lower tail-coverts white, the leg feathers sometimes 
slightly tinged with fulvous and with traces of narrow trans- 
verse barrings on the tibia. 

Female. — (As I believe, relying on the recorded sexing of my 
specimens, but they may be young males). Much resembling 
the male, but differing in the much greater extent of pencilling 
and barring. The whole mantle and the whole of the breast 
(not merely the upper breast as in the male) is distinctly and 
conspicuously lineated with narrow zig-zaggy dark brown lines. 
The mantle of the male is, doubtless, when closely looked into, 
excessively finely vermiculated with blackish grey or greyish 
brown, but in the female these markings are very conspicuous, 
and on the longer scapulars and tertials are broader apart, and 
fully as distinctly marked as those on the upper breast of the 
male. The linear elongated portion of the central tail-feathers 
in the female does not apparently exceed three inches in 
length. The bill too is decidedly smaller than in the male. 



cx3 



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Pterocles arenarius, Pallas, 



Vernacular Names.— [Bfcut-titur, Buk-tit, Bur-titur (and a dozen other varia- 
tions). Upper India ; Kashmiri, or Burra Bhatta, Haridna and Bhattidna ; 
Katinga. Sind ; Bunchur, Peshawar ; Siah-sin (Persian), Khorasan ; Bagri- 
kara (Turkish), N, Persia.'] 



o^r?? 




HE Large Sand-Grouse is essentially a western form, 
and despite the countless myriads in which it occurs, 
in most years, in parts of North-Western India, it is 
merely a cold weather visitant, and breeds, so far 
as I yet know, nowhere within the limits of the 
Empire. 
During the four coldest months of the year, it is to be found 
throughout the Punjab, Rajputana, the Doab, Southern Rohil- 
khand and Oudh, Bundelkhand, the northern portions of the 
Central India Agency, Western Khandesh, Northern Guzerat, 
the eastern portions of Cutch and Kathiawar, and Sind, 
It is, however, in most years only really abundant in Northern 
and Western Rajputana, and the Punjab west of Umballa ; 
it becomes less plentiful as you proceed eastwards, and through- 
out the eastern and southern portions of the tract above indi- 
cated it is more or less rare, and towards its extreme limits a 
mere accidental straggler. 

Westwards, it extends to the Canaries ; is common in Portugal 
and Spain (straggling rarely into other parts of Europe), North- 
Western and Northern Africa, Palestine, the Caucasus, Persia, 
Western Turkestan and the country east of the Caspian, 
Affghanistan, and Beluchistan. 

Although Scully recorded it doubtfully from Yarkand, I do 
not believe that it occurs there or anywhere eastwards of this 
in Central Asia ; the note he describes (S. F., IV, 179; was 
clearly that of a Syrrhaptes and not of a Pterocles. 

Although, according to Jerdon, Col. Chesney saw this species 
in millions in Arabia (by which Turkish Arabia, commonly 
called Mesopotamia, must be meant), its occurrence there has not 
been confirmed, and is the less likely that it has not yet been 
observed in any part of North-Eastern Africa, to which, zoologi- 
cally, Arabia is more closely allied than to Asia or Europe. In 
all probability P. alchata was the species seen by Chesney. 



48 THE LARGE OR BLACK-BELLIED SAND-GROUSE, 

Directly it begins to be at all hot, the large Sand-Grouse 
leaves us. In 1868, when the heat set in early, every bird had 
left the neighbourhood of Sirsa and Fazilka by the end of 
February ; and though, up in the cooler extreme north-west about 
Peshawar and Mardan, I have known them to occur during the 
first week of April, it is very rare to meet with them elsewhere 
after the 15th March. About Sirsa, they never, that I know of, 
appear before the 1st of October, and in warm years not before 
quite the end of that month. Lower down in the Doab, as at 
Etawah, they are scarcely, if ever, seen before the 15th of 
November, or after the 20th February, though during December 
and January considerable numbers may almost always be found 
in suitable tracts to the south-east of that district. 

Vast sandy plains, with water easily accessible, are what they 
like, and wherever these occur in North-Western India, there 
the large Sand-Grouse are sure to be found during the coldest 
portion of the year. 

The countless multitudes that occur in some seasons between 
Ferozepore and Mooltan, on either side of the Sutlej, and 
throughout Sirsa and Bahawalpur, are scarcely credible. 

They go to some watering place regularly every morning, later 
in the very cold weather, earlier as the temperature increases. 
Driving, in November 1867, the last stage into Fazilka, from 
Ferozepore, parallel to, and on the average about two miles distant 
from, the Sutlej, over 100 flocks or parties of from four or 
five to close upon one hundred each, flew over us during our 
1 5 miles drive. They were all going to the river to drink or 
returning thence. Necessarily we can only have seen an 
exceedingly small fraction of the total number that that morn- 
ing crossed that little stretch of road. 

Further inland, if I may use the phrase, where rivers are too 
distant for them to resort to, they frequent, in this portion of 
the Punjab, the few tanks that are to be found. Long before 
the Sand-Grouse leave, most of these have dried up, and it often 
happens that there are only two or three watering places left within 
a radius of many miles. When this occurs, the native sports- 
men station themselves in ambush near these few places, and 
slaughter multitudes, while fowlers catch them in nets or snares 
laid at the water's edge. Khan Nizam-ud-din tells me (and, 
unlike most natives, what he says may be relied on) that he and 
two European Officers, stationed one at each of three tanks, 
bagged between them 54 brace one morning in two hours. 

Ploughed land is a very favourite resort in the early mornings, 
and there they squat basking in the sun's earliest rays, huddled 
up so close together, and, where the party is large, in such dense 
masses, that large numbers may be bagged with a couple of 
charges of large shot, if one is only lucky enough to be able 
to approach within 50 yards. In the Aligarh district, my old 
shikari crept up to and shot every one of a party of seven 



THE LARGE OR BLACK-BELLIED SAND-GROUSE. 49 

before me, and last year in Jodhpore I came upon fully two 
thousand, grouped together in a clump little, if at all, more than 
thirty yards long by ten wide ; and, though I did not get within 
80 yards of them, I yet dropped three by two barrels into the mass 
as it rose. 

I have but seldom met with them on stubbles (though 
they affect these a good deal, I hear, in some parts of the 
country), or in any ground under crop, nor have I ever 
found them on or about the more or less scrub-clad bases 
of the low hills so common in Rajputana. Wide, open sandy 
plains are their favourite resorts ; and, though they do sometimes 
feed on bare ploughed lands, it is rare to find them on these 
except when basking in the early morning or when taking 
their mid-day siesta. This, like all the Sand-Grouse, they always 
take when the sun is hot, though on cold, cloudy, gloomy days, 
they are moving the whole day. They bustle about in the sand 
or loose loam like old hens, until they have worked out a de- 
pression that fits them, and then in this they sit a little on 
one side, first with one wing a little under them and the 
uppermost one a little opened, and then, after a time, they 
shift over to the other side, so as to give the other wing 
its turn of grilling. During their siesta they are never closely 
packed ; they are scattered about irregularly, one here, two or 
three there, and so on ; and though at this time you may gener- 
ally by circling get within reach of them, they are by no means 
all asleep, and the instant you halt or raise a gun, or fix your eyes 
on any of them, the alarm note is sounded, and they are off 
with a strong rapid flight, which most of us, at one time or 
another, have found too much for the second barrel. 

In parts of the country where they have not been shot at, 
especially when they first arrive, you may easily approach within 
thirty yards, shoot two or three on the ground, and perhaps a 
couple more as they rise, but after having been worried a good 
deal they become the wildest birds imaginable, and then the 
only plan is to get them driven over you, which, with good 
native fowlers, is almost a certainty, and affords at the same 
time most difficult shooting and capital sport. It takes a 
straight eye, No 3 shot, and a hard-hitting gun, to bring 
down a clean-killed right and left out of a party going over you, 
30 to 35 yards high, at the pace these birds can go. 

It is not uncommon, particularly in the early part of the cold 
season, to meet with party after party consisting of birds of one 
sex only, but this separation of the sexes is by no means invaria- 
ble even in November and December, and is much less 
frequently seen as the season advances. 

If you watch a flock feeding, you will see that they observe 
no order, but straggle about in all directions ; some individuals 
continually fluttering up and alighting a yard or so away, and 
every now and then a dozen springing up together, taking a 



50 THE LARGE OR BLACK-BELLIED SAND-GROUSE. 

circling flight and settling pretty nearly at the spot they rose 
from. You will also, especially if it is late in the season and the 
morning young, observe, as a rule, a vast amount of skirmishing 
going on between the males ; not regular fights, but a series 
of pecks delivered, and perhaps a little hustle. I watched a 
large flock once from a distance of perhaps a hundred yards 
from behind a sand hill, and it seemed to me that no two 
males came within a foot of each other without coming to blows 
in a mild way. 

Every one in India knows the peculiar clucking note of this 
and the Common Sand-Grouse, but I really do not know how to 
put it on paper. 

As to food, I have been often assured that they eat insects 
freely. I can only say that I have examined the stomachs of 
scores without ever finding anything in them beyond small 
seeds and grains of various kinds and little pieces of grass and 
herbs. On one or two occasions I have, no doubt, seen a 
single ant or tiny beetle, but these were, I believe, picked up 
by accident along with some seed or other and swallowed 
involuntarily. There are always, or almost always, small stones, 
usually quartz pebbles, in the stomach • sometimes only one 
or two, sometimes a great number. 

As I have already said, I do not think that the Large Sand- 
Grouse breeds with us, but it may do so on some of the moder- 
ately elevated plateaux of Kabul or Khelat, and it certainly 
breeds on the Persian plateau, at from four to seven thousand 
feet elevation, and at similar altitudes in Western Turkestan. 
Further west it seems to breed in all the countries already 
referred to in defining its range. 

It lays, probably early in June, three eggs (as exustus does) 
in some slight depression in the soil. The eggs, Tristram says, 
are placed two in a line, and one outside them, but I doubt whe- 
ther there can be any invariable rule on this point, as I have 
found those of exustus in all kinds of positions. Of the eggs, 
Dresser says : — " In shape they are oval, rather elongated, taper- 
ing equally towards each end, and in colour are light stone-colour 
or buff, more or less marbled with very indistinct purplish grey 
under-lying shell-markings and light brown over-lying surface 
blotches, which latter in some specimens are drawn in fantas- 
tical shapes ; and in most of the eggs the dark markings are 
more or less collected round one end. In size they vary from 
1*85 by i'3 to 2 inches by r35." 

No doubt they are elongated, cylindrical eggs, varying much 
in ground colour and in the amount and intensity of markings. 
One I saw, collected I believe by Dr Tristram, had a dull, pale 
fawn coloured ground, and was profusely mottled and blotched 
with two shades of a pale somewhat rufous brown and purplish 
dusky. 



THE LARGE OR BLACK-BELLIED SAND-GROUSE. 5 1 

This species does not vary very much in size. I have measur- 
ed and weighed a very large number with the following 
results : — 

Males.— 'Length, 1375 to 1475 ; expanse, 27 to 30; wing, 
9/0 to 9-9 ; tail from vent, 4 to 5 ; tarsus, ri to 1*25 ; bill from 
gape, 0*64 to o*8. Weight, lib to lib. 4 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 13*38 to 14*37 ; expanse, 27*38 to 28'5 ; 
wing, 87 to 9*4 ; tail, 4*13 to 4*15 ; tarsus, ro to i*i. Weight, 
15 ozs to 17 ozs. 

The feet and the back of the tarsi are grey, in some an 
earthy grey, in some pale French grey, or pale plumbeous, or 
dark greyish plumbeous ; the claws darker and horny ; the irides 
are brown ; edges of eyelids pale lemon ; the bill is pale bluish 
grey, or pale plumbeous, often darker, sometimes blackish, 
at the tip. 

The Plate, held at a little distance, is as good a representa- 
tion of the bird as could be desired. In the majority of speci- 
mens, however, the buffy portions of the plumage are lighter 
and yellower and less rufous than in the specimens figured, but 
the birds vary much in this respect. 

I cannot say much for the queer little figure in the back- 
ground, which is intended to represent a young male ; like the 
female, but with the spots on the breast already partly oblitera- 
ted by the coming grey of the mature plumage. 










Iks 




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Pterocles senegalus, Linne. 

Vernacular ITaiaeS-— [ Nandoo Katingo, Gutu, Sind.] 



^ITHIN our limits, the Spotted Sand-Grouse is 
only common in Sind and Jeysulmere, but it 
straggles eastward of this into the Punjab, 
Rajputana, Cutch, Northern Guzerat, and Nor- 
thern Kathiawar, in the neighbourhood of the 
Runn ; never, however, so far as I yet know, occur- 
ring east of the 73 E. Long. The most northerly 
point from which I have received it is Shahpur on the Jhelum ; 
the most southerly, Patri at the south-east corner of the lesser 
Runn, and Nawanagar in Northern Kathiawar. I have it from 
Pokaran in Jodhpore and from the Luni near the borders of 
Jodhpore and Balmir. 

Except in the semi-desert portions of Sind, and possibly 
Jeysulmere, it is only a cold weather visitant to India, and even 
where, in Sind, some of the birds appear to be permanent 
residents, the great majority of those met with in the winter 
are, I believe, migrants. 

Beyond our limits, this species occurs in suitable localities in 
the plains of Khelat, along the Mekran Coast, in Mesopotamia, 
Palestine, Arabia, Egypt, Nubia, and Somali Land, but curious- 
ly enough it has not been recorded from Abyssinia, in the low 
coast lands of which it must occur. In the Libyan desert, 
and, Ruppell says, the coast of Barbary, and in the extreme south 
of the Sahara, it also occurs, but it is very doubtful if it extends 
so far west as Senegal, and if it does not, it would have, according 
to a certain school of writers, to take Lichtenstein's name of 
gitttatus. 



Numerous as the Spotted Sand-Grouse are in certain locali- 
ties in Sind, they are, as a rule, only met with within a compa- 
ratively narrow zone ; that within which the inundation tracts 
abut on the dry uplands, and cultivation and desert inoscu- 
late. 

In the immediate neighbourhood of the hills themselves, 
I never saw them, except in parties, coming up for a few 
minutes to drink at some perennial stream, close to where it 



54 THE SPOTTED SAND-GROUSE. 

debouches from the hills ; and again,- 1 equally missed them well 
down into the heart of the cultivated area. 

Denizens of the desert, as their plumage shews them to be 
at the first glance, they never advance far into the cultiva- 
tion, to the immediate neighbourhood of which they are attract- 
ed by the facilities for obtaining food. 

There is little to be said about their habits ; they keep to- 
gether in parties of from five to fifty ; very often each flock, 
at any rate in winter, consists of one sex only ; but occasionally 
I have found both sexes intermingled. They trot about on the 
dry soil, picking up seeds and occasionally insects, or squat 
motionless sunning themselves in the early morning sun. They 
fly off to drink, morning and evening, often to comparatively 
distant localities, and generally comport themselves much as 
P. exustus and arenarius do, but are more birds of the wilder- 
ness than these. I have never seen or heard of them in the 
enormous flocks or packs, in which the Large and Pintail Sand- 
Grouse are so often seen. 

In Jeysulmere, as Dr. Newman informed me, and as I subse- 
quently found, they are very abundant in the desert tracts 
south of the capital, slightly undulating stony plains, mingled 
with stretches of blown sand. 

Their flight is rapid and easy, but wherever I have met with 
them they have been less shy and easier of approach than arena- 
rius. Their note is peculiar, and has been happily described as a 
gurgling sound, not unlike that produced by blowing through a 
small tube, one end of which is immersed in water. It has been 
syllabled as quidle, quidle, quidle, and this really does recall the 
note to a certain extent. It has appeared to me that the males 
of this species are more peaceably inclined, and not so given 
to perpetually skirmishing with each other as are those of 
arenarius. 

Their food is mostly seeds, but I found a good many insects 
mixed with these in the stomachs of those I examined, and they 
are, I infer, less purely vegetarians than the Large Sand-Grouse. 

Whether it is on this account I cannot say ; indeed it may 
have been only fancy, but I have always considered that the 
flesh of this species was less dry and more palatable than that 
of any other Sand-Grouse. Even admitting this, I can only 
say that, after eating hundreds of Sand-Grouse of most of our 
Indian species, I think them very poor food, only at all good 
when baked in a ball of clay, gipsy fashion. 

Mr, James writes that he has "seen this bird in the Kurrachee 
and Hyderabad Districts, in Sind, also in the south-east 
corner of the Runn of Cutch in the Ahmedabad District. It 
is a permanent resident ; common in Sind, but not so in the 
Ahmedabad District. Its note is very like that of P. exustus, but 
not so harsh, and easily distinguishable from it. It frequents 
cultivated ground and is easily approached on foot. It associates 



THE SPOTTED SAND-GROUSE, 55 

in very large flocks at times. It is very fond of the south shore 
of the Manchar Lake, where thousands may be seen at a time 
drinking, and then basking on the smooth short grass, which 
the receding of the lake has left behind. 

" Where the birds abound, it would at all times be easy to get 
eight or ten brace, or more. They can be easily approached by 
walking up to them rapidly, making as if to pass them, and 
shooting directly they are within shot, in exactly the same 
way as P. exustus is procured." 



Nothing has ever been recorded of their nidification, but 
some, at any rate, do breed in Sind, as I possess an egg obtain- 
ed there. 

This single egg I owe to Mr. William Blanford, who extract- 
ed it from the body of a female which he shot on the 20th 
March 1875 m the desert west of Shikarpur, Upper Sind. In 
shape and size the egg is similar to that of exustus, but the 
markings are much more sparse than in any egg of that species 
that I have ever seen. The egg is, of course, cylindro-ovoidal ; 
the ground colour is pale yellowish stone, and the markings, 
which are thinly distributed over the surface of the egg y 
consist of olive brown spots and tiny blotches, with a few crooked 
and hooked lines. ; besides these, a few pale purplish lilac or 
inky grey spots, streaks, and smears, having a sub-surface appear- 
ance, are scattered irregularly about the surface of the egg. 

Having been extracted from the body of the bird, the egg 
has, of course, but little gloss. It measures 1*5 by 1*05. 



I have measured numerous specimens in the flesh with the 
following results : — 

Males. — Length, 13*4 to 147 ; expanse, 23 to 237; tail from 
vent, 5*3 to 6 ; wing, 7-5 to yg ; the wings when closed reach to 
within from 2*3 to 2*8 of the end of the longest tail feathers, viz.> 
the central ones, which exceed the others by from 175 to 2 ; bill 
at front, 0*44 to 0*47 ; tarsus, 1 to 1*05. Weight, 9 to 12 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 12*4 to 13*1 ; expanse, 22 to 22*6 ; tail from 
vent, 4 to 4*6 ; the central tail feathers only extending from 
075 to 1*2 beyond the rest ; wing, 7*3 to 7*5 ; bill at front, 0*4 
to 0-44. Weight, 8 to 9 ozs. 

I rides brown; bare orbital skin yellowish ; bill pale plumbe- 
ous, bluish grey or bluish white, always somewhat more dusky 
towards the tip ; feet pale plumbeous or bluish white, paler 
towards the upper surfaces of the toes, and whitish on scales. 



The Plate is a cruel caricature of the species, just sufficiently 
like to permit of identification, but miscoloured to a degree 
only explicable on the hypothesis of somebody s colour-blind- 



$6 THE SPOTTED SAND-GROUSE. 

ness. In the first place, the spots on the female are not dingy 
purple, but greyish black, and her under surface is fawny 
white and not yellow. In the second place, the whole figure 
of the male is many shades too dark — the prevailing tint 
should be a light desert fawn, and the most prominent feature 
is the delicate, pale French, almost pearl grey, of the forehead 
and broad supercilium, which, extending on to the nape, thence 
as a broad though not perfectly defined band, encircles the 
whole neck, gradually shading off into the fawn. Fortunately 
for our supporters, this is the very worst plate in the three 
volumes. 



A 




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Pterocles coronatus, Xichtenstem. 



Vernacular Names-— [Katinga, sind.\ 

T is only on the extreme western confines of the 
Empire, in the desert portions of Sind Trans-Indus, 
that the Coronetted Sand-Grouse occurs within our 
limits, and there only as a cold weather visitant, and 
in small numbers. A single specimen has been killed 
in the southern portion of the Dera Ghazi Khan 
District, but I know of no other instance of its 
occurrence outside the limits above indicated. 

In the Cutchee of Khelat, and in Beluchistan, it is not very 
rare, and Blanford obtained it on the Persian plateau. It has 
also been recorded from Arabia, Egypt, Nubia, Kordofan, and 
the southern portions of the Sahara, but its real area of dis- 
tribution is as yet very imperfectly defined. 




I HAVE never myself seen this species alive, nor can I find any 
single thing recorded of its habits, food, or the like. Heuglin 
only tells us that in its voice and habits it precisely resembles 
the Spotted Sand-Grouse. 

Tristram obtained the eggs in the more southern portions 
of the Sahara, where, he says, it supplants P. arenarius. He 
adds : " I found it only in small companies of four or five, but this 
may have been owing to the extreme scarcity of plants in the 
district where it roams. The egg is of an ashy white, with a 
few, almost obliterated, pale-brown markings." 

My few specimens measure in the skin: — 

Length ; Wing ; Bill at front ; Tail ; Tarsus. 

Males. io"s to n"7 ; 7*1 to 7^23; 0*58 to o"68 ; 3*3 to 3*75 o'g to C95. 

Females. 10 to 1C7 ; 7 to 7'i5 ; 0*56 to o'66 ; 3*4 to 3*5 ; o 9 to C93. 



The Plate is rather a pretty picture ; an artistic ideali- 
zation and not a portrait, and therefore worthless for our 
purposes, though the black markings about the head will pro- 
bably suffice for the identification of the male. In the male the 
strongly-marked blue grey supercilium is scarcely indicated, 
while as to the female, a dark-looking bird, densely banded with 
black, or in some places brownish black, I can only suppose 
that the artist began, but wholly forgot to finish, his picture. 



% 






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ni rami tmmuiKL 



Pterocles fasciatus, Scopoli. 



Vernacular Names.— [Pahan bhut-titur, Bhut-bun, North-Western Provinces; 
Palki, Belgaum ; Handeri, Southern India ; Kal Gowjal haki, (Kanarese), 
Mysore; Sonda polanka, (Telugu.)] 




LTHOUGH the Painted Sand-Grouse, to my mind the 
most beautiful of the genus, is widely distributed 
throughout India, it is very local in its distribution, 
and is chiefly found, so far as my experience goes, on 
and about the bases and in the neighbourhood of 
dry, low, rocky, bush-clad or sparingly-wooded 
hills. 

In parts of the country, however, I have found it affecting 
the high kkeyras, or mounds of deserted villages, met with in 
many jungles, and there are forest tracts in which the ground is 
stony and a good deal broken up by ravines in which it is 
particularly abundant. 

It is, of course, entirely unknown in low, rich, unbroken alluvial 
plains, in the major portion of the North- Western Provinces, for 
instance, the whole of Lower and Eastern Bengal and Assam, 
and equally so on the Malabar Coast and the extreme south of 
the Peninsula and Ceylon. 

Generally, I think it may be said to occur in localities such as 
I have above described throughout India Proper, north of the 
12° N. Lat, and west of the 8$° E. Long. 

Southwards, it extends at least as far as Chitaldroog and 
Tumkur in Mysore, eastwards to Sirguja and Palamow in Chota 
Nagpore, and northwards, at any rate as a straggler, to Attock 
and even Hazara, where, in 1863, Mr. Greig shot a pair on the 
banks of the Indus at Darban in the Amb country. 

Although very common in Bundelkhand and to the south of 
Mirzapur, the real home of the species appears to me to lie in 
the so-called Mewat Hills, and their continuation, the Aravalis, 
which run down in a wide curve from Delhi, through Ajmere to 
Mount Abu, a broad straggling belt, or series of belts, of stony 
ridges and detached barrow-like mounds. 

So far as is yet known, the Painted Sand-Grouse is exclusively 
Indian, and does not even extend into Sind, Khelat, or Kabul. 



60 THE PAINTED SAND-GROUSE. 

Although large numbers may be found in the same enceinte, 
they never associate in the huge flocks in which the other 
species of Sand-Grouse occur. Ten is the largest pack that I 
have ever flushed at one time, and except from September to 
February, they are as a rule only met with in pairs. 

Of their habits little can be said, for, except when coming 
down in the mornings to drink, one rarely sees them before they 
rise. They are seldom found at any great distance from the 
base of their hilly homes, unless during the hot weather, when 
want of water compels them at times to straggle away for some 
miles. Except on cloudy days, they usually work some way 
up the hills, after 10 o'clock, and bask at the base of some 
thorny shrub or Euphorbia bush, but in dull, cold weather they 
seem to remain the whole day below. In the mornings they 
may always be found in the scrub and amongst the grass and 
rocks at the bases of the hills, and even in small patches of 
cultivation, here and there dotted about these, where they 
feed on grain, seeds and the like ; not at all, so far as I have 
observed, on insects. On the 4th of January 1868 I shot 13 brace 
near Bhoondsee in the Gurgaon district, the crops of every 
one of which, I noted, contained exclusively Moth, a common 
Indian pulse. 

Where they are abundant they afford extremely pretty 
shooting, and 20 to 25 brace is by no means an out-of-the-way 
bag for two good guns. Even though at first flushed in parties of 
7 to 10, they break up into pairs and singles after the first shot, 
and lie well. I have never seen them wild or rise at greater 
distances than 30 or at most 40 yards, and very often they 
whirr up within a few feet. They rise with a chuckling chirp, 
fly low, and soon alight again, often however running a con- 
siderable distance after they have alighted. They run extreme- 
ly well, compared with other Sand-Grouse, as I have repeatedly 
noticed when standing above whilst others were shooting 
below. For a moment, I have often mistaken them for Grey 
Partridges. 

Although their flight is strong and tolerably fast, they offer 
an easy shot, and can be dropped with charges and at distances 
that would afford little prospects of a kill in the case of 
exustus. 

Their plumage is very delicate, and half the feathers of the 
back and breast are often knocked out by the fall when they 
are shot. The aural orifices are very large, and being only 
partially covered with feathers of which the webs are very far 
apart, are conspicuous ; but the birds do not appear to hear 
particularly well, or if they do, they are very tame or stupid, for 
they continually rise at one's feet, and if much disturbed lie so 
close that they are almost as hard to raise as Button Quail. 

Their crepuscular habits are undoubted, though I cannot say 
that I myself have often noticed them after dusk. 



THE PAINTED SAND-GROUSE. 6 1 

Mr. Adam tells us that he had been shooting with Thakur 
Kesri Sing, of Kuchawan, who on their way home told him of 
a much-frequented drinking place of this species. It was 
agreed to go and shoot a few. 

" Accordingly," he says, " we at once started for the pond. 
The patch of water — it could hardly be called a pond — was 
situated in a grove of Acacia trees close to a large masonry well. 
We reached the place about half an hour before sunset, and 
then I observed a few Pigeons and Doves, a Wag-tail and a 
Redstart coming to drink ; about half an hour after the sun 
had set, or when it was dusk to all intents and purposes, I heard 
the peculiar cluck, cluck, which fasciatus makes when rising, 
and some six or seven birds flew rapidly through the clump 
under the trees and settled down on the bank about eight feet 
from the water. There they lay perfectly still for two or three 
seconds, and then all of them commenced a rapid run down to 
the water. By this time others came flocking in, and in about 
five minutes I could see that there were about fifty birds collect- 
ed. It was now so dark that, although only about twenty yards 
distant from them, I required my binoculars to see the birds. 

" I fired at a group of six and killed two ; the other birds flew 
off, uttering their clucking call ; all flew very low round the tope, 
and again settled down near the water. I again fired and killed 
five with one barrel, and when the birds returned, I killed three 
more. After the third shot none returned." 

Mr. R. Thompson also writes : — 

" I can quite corroborate Dr. Jerdon's observations as to the 
crepuscular habits of this species. It is quite nocturnal, and 
feeds and goes to water even in the darkest night. I have 
seen the birds arrive at the edge of a plain at dusk, and remain 
feeding and going to water during the dark hours before the 
moon got up. I have frequently too noted parties of six or 
seven flitting about noiselessly over an opening in the forest 
long after sunset. 

" During the early part of the rains these birds entirely leave 
the forests and jungles, and then, all through the rains, live in 
the open country, exactly as P. exustus does, but they are never 
noisy like the latter. 

" Large numbers of the Painted Grouse are taken during the 
rainy season by bird-catchers, who, approaching under cover of 
a screen made of green leaves and twigs, drop a circular net, 
suspended to a hoop and held out horizontally at the end of a 
long bamboo, over the birds, which, as a rule, never seem to 
suspect that there is danger at hand." 

This species is in no degree migratory, but appears to live all 
the year round and breed in almost precisely the same places, 
although, as the seasons change, they may move a few miles and 
vary the nature of the cover they affect. 



62 THE PAINTED SAND-GROUSE, 

Most of the numerous eggs that I have received have been 
found in April and May, but the nearly-allied exustus breeds so 
irregularly, and at such different periods, that it is, a priori, pro- 
bable that the breeding season of the present species also, varies 
much, and is not by any means confined to these two months. 
Indeed, Mr. R. Thompson took a nest near Chanda on the 
28th November, and again, Captain Butler, writing from Mount 
Abu, remarks : " I shot a pair of Painted Sand-Grouse, with 
three young ones not quite full grown, in the plains below, about 
twenty miles from this, in February last, which shows that 
P. fasciatus breeds in this neighbourhood in the cold weather, 
as these young birds must have been hatched, I should say from 
their appearance, during the previous month." 

They make no nest, but merely scrape a slight depression in 
the soil (occasionally, it is said, thickly lined with grass), at 
some spot more or less overhung or sheltered by a tuft of grass 
or a low bush, and lay occasionally four, as a rule three, but 
not uncommonly only two, eggs. 

Mr. R. M. Adam says :— 

" My first nest was found on the 3rd April. I have since 
obtained fresh eggs in May. The nest, I was told, was simply 
a hollow scraped in the ground, with a number of small pieces 
of stone round the edge and some loose grass for a lining. 

" The number of eggs in each nest varied from two to three, 
but in one nest four were found. When fresh, the eggs vary 
from a deep to very pale salmon colour, but when blown, the 
colour changes in a few days to a rich cream colour, and all are 
pretty uniformly spotted and speckled with light lavender and 
rusty." 

Writing from Chanda (Central Provinces), Mr. R. Thompson 
says : " I send you two eggs of P ter odes fasciatus y which I took 
on the 28th November in the Mohurli Forests. 

"The nest contained three eggs, of which one unfortunately 
got broken. It was placed on the ground on a slight rise ; neatly 
and well put together, saucer-like, made of dried grass, bits of 
dried leaves of bamboo and other plants. The soil was sandy, 
with a thin forest growing on it, and the nest was placed under 
the shade of a small tree. There was no cover in the im- 
mediate vicinity of the nest ; in fact, for three or four yards all 
round there was nothing but thin short grass. I accidentally 
arrived at the spot, and whilst talking to a friend, the female 
bird got up close at our feet, and I saw the nest immediately." 

Mr. E. C. Nunn sent me, from Hoshangabad, the first eggs 
of this species that I ever saw. The eggs were of the usual 
long cylindrical Sand-Grouse type, but the colouration resembles 
that of several of our Indian Goat-Suckers, and but for the 
careful extraction of the young chick, which accompanied the 
eggs in spirit, I might have believed them to belong to some 
large species of Goat-Sucker. 



THE PAINTED SAND-GROUSE, 63 

Since then I have obtained and taken a large number of the 
eggs of this species. As a body they are very regular, obtuse- 
ended, cylindrical ellipsoids, the shell very smooth and glossy, the 
ground colour a delicate pale salmon pink, with a good many, 
somewhat widely scattered, specks and tiny streaks of brownish 
red, very generally much more numerous towards one or other 
end, and with a good many small pale inky purple spots and 
clouds almost exclusively confined to that end where the mark- 
ings are most numerous. 

Specimens are occasionally met with in which the markings 
are very sparse, and I have one specimen in which they are 
absolutely and entirely wanting. 

Not unfrequently the markings form a pretty perfect zone 
towards one end, and here and there an egg is met with exhi- 
biting six or eight large deep brownish-red blotches. Pale 
pinky white, white, and somewhat buffy stone-colour grounds 
are also met with. 

Dr. Jerdon remarks : " I have had the eggs brought me, very 
cylindrical in form, of a dull earthy green with a few dusky 
spots ; but these most assuredly were eggs of P. exustus and not 
of our present species, fasciatus. 

In length the eggs vary from 1*3 to i"62, and in breadth 
from 0'93 to ro5 ; but the average of forty eggs is 1*42 by 0*98. 



The sexes differ but little in size. From a very large series 
of measurements recorded in the flesh I find that — 

Males. — Measure, Length, 10*5 to 11*25 ; expanse, 1975 to 
22*5; wing, 6*4 to yo\ tail from vent, 3*25 to 375 ; tarsus, 
o"88 to ro ; bill from gape, 0*58 to 07. Weight, 6 to 7-5 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 10 to 10*5 ; expanse, 19*5 to 20*5 ; wing, 
6*38 to 6*65 ; tail, 3*25 to 3*5 ; tarsus, 0'8 to 0*9 ; bill from 
gape, 0*55 to 0*6. Weight, 6*38 to 675 ozs. 

The colours of the soft parts vary somewhat. I have record- 
ed the feet as dirty yellow, pale reddish olive, pale dingy 
brown, pale orange brown ; the irides as brown, the skin round 
the eyes yellowish green, and again bluish yellow ; the bill as 
brown, reddish brown, reddish horny, dingy orange red, and 
dark orange red. 



The Plate is excellent, but the bill should be darker, and 
with a brown or reddish tinge. In some males the light mark- 
ings of the back and rump are much more buffy and less rufous 
than in the specimen figured, and similarly in some females the 
upper surface is altogether lighter and less strongly marked. 




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Pterocles lichtensteini, Temminck. 



Vernacular Names.— \Nom?\ 




T is only in the Trans-Indus portions of Sind that 
this pretty Sand-Grouse has as yet been observed 
within our limits. 
Until I discovered it in 1872 at Gul Muhammad, Mehar, 
(j> in Upper Sind, it was not known to occur outside 
North-East Africa, where in Egypt, Nubia, Abyssinia, 
and Somali land, it would appear to have its home. 
Jerdon, it is true, says that it is common in Arabia, and so it 
not improbably is, but I cannot discover that he had any 
authority for the statement. It has not yet been observed in 
either Beluchistan or Southern Persia, but it must almost cer- 
tainly occur in the former at any rate. 

In 1876, Captain Wise procured and sent me several speci- 
mens, some from the Erie Hills and others from the Kurrachee 
District, where in some seasons it is not uncommon. 



In Sind they seem to be only winter visitants, almost, if not 
wholly, absent in some years, and never seen in any great num- 
bers. 

With us they are generally met with in pairs or par- 
ties of three or four, in the neighbourhood of some little patch of 
cultivation, or where broken, rocky ground or scrub afford some 
kind of cover. They lie well, and though they fly fast enough, 
like all their congeners, when well under weigh, rise an easy 
shot. 

Blanford, in his Zoology of Abyssinia, tells us that " this 
bird has precisely the same habits as the closely-allied 
Pt. fasciatus of India. It is rarely, if ever, seen on open sandy 
plains. 

" It keeps to bush and thin tree jungle, and is usually found 
solitary, in pairs, or, at the most, two or three pairs together. 
I once came upon a considerable flock in January, and possibly 
at that time these birds may collect in large numbers, but in 
May, June, July, and August, it was rare to see more than four 



66 THE CLOSE-BARRED SAND-GROUSE, 

together, except about watering-places. When disturbed, this 
Sand-Grouse rises with a sharp cackling cry. 

" It does not rise high, and usually settles again after a short 
flight. 

" All kinds of Pterocles, as is well known, fly to water at 
particular hours in the day, the hours varying with different 
species. Pt. exustus drinks about 9 A.M. and 4 P.M. In the 
present case, the drinking hour is at daybreak in the morning, 
and at dusk in the evening. 

" In the semi-desert country west and north-west of Massowa, 
in which Pt. lichtensteini abounds, and there are but very few 
places where water is found, the scene at each spring of an 
evening, after a hot day especially, is very interesting. At 
Saati, Ailat, and Ain there was a constant rush of these birds 
from sunset till dark, and again in the morning before sunrise. 
Singly and in small flocks, uttering their peculiar a queep- 
queep"-like note, they flew up and down the water course, on 
their way to or from the water, keeping only a few feet above 
the bushes and low trees, the noise of their wings being heard 
in the dusk before the birds themselves appeared." 

Von Heuglin (Orn. Nord. Ost. Afr.) says : — " During the 
hottest part of the day these Sand-Grouse keep in families of 
three to eight or more (at times even in flocks of hundreds) on 
low hills, or in shallow hollows dotted over with loose stones, 
harmonizing closely with their own colour ; they are also to be 
found amongst low leafless bushes and in places thinly sprinkled 
with desert plants. 

" In the forenoon, and again towards evening, they forage to- 
gether busily, and feed then in cultivated places in maize, 
indigo, and cotton fields, at threshing floors, on roads frequent- 
ed by caravans, and in valleys where there is wild vegetation. 

"As twilight comes on, they become really lively ; the separate 
parties swarm together and alight with deafening noise to drink 
on sand banks in some stream, or at the desert springs. Their 
far-resounding call during sunset and night sounds much like 
the sharp whistle of the hunter through his fingers ; the note is 
generally double, but is sometimes single, and is entirely dis- 
tinct from the cry of Pterocles guttatus, coronatus, and exustus. 
It produces a peculiar effect on the traveller, who, after a long 
hot day's march, is resting beside a half dried-up pool in some 
lonely valley, when suddenly the sharp whistle of one of these 
birds, spectre-like in the dim light, darting over head with 
arrow-like swiftness, rings out amid the wonted stillness of the 
waste. 

" On moonlight nights these birds never roost at all, and there 
is really no end to the clapping and striking of wings and the 
whistling and croaking of these noisy fowl as they straggle 
about on the ground, especially in the neighbourhood of the 
desert springs, with lowered pinions and up-turned and out- 



THE CLOSE-BARRED SAND-GROUSE. 67 

spread tails. In captivity these birds are intractable, violent 
and quarrelsome ; they swell out their crops and strut round and 
round like cock pigeons, croaking at and hustling each other, 
and with backs upraised striking with their wings. 

" Nowhere have we met with the Close-barred Sand-Grouse 
in such enormous multitudes as at the wells of Tadschura, and 
at the torrents of the neighbouring coast in the Eisa-Somali 
region." 

Of the nidification of this species, nothing appears to be on re- 
cord beyond the following very vague remarks of von Heuglin : — 
" Occasionally we came across the nests of this species ; they 
were found on the slopes of the highland in thin dry brushwood, 
and contained two cylindrical-shaped eggs much the colour of 
dirty and faded Peewits' eggs. The breeding season is the 
beginning of the rains. The nest is only a little hollow in the 
desert sand." 

I have only measured a single pair, of which the following 
were the dimensions : — 

Male. — Length, 107 ; expanse, 21°; tail from vent, 3*2 ; wing, 
6*65 ; wings, when closed, reach to within 07 of end of tail ; 
bill at front, 0*54 ; bill from gape, 0*65 ; tarsus, 1*05. Weight, 
8 ozs. 

Female. — Length, 10*37 \ expanse, 20 ; tail from vent, 3 ; wing, 
66 ; wings, when closed, reach to within 07 of end of tail ; 
bill at front, 0*55 ; from gape, 0'62. Weight, 8 ozs. 

Legs wholly feathered in front ; feet orange yellow ; reticula- 
tions white ; claws dusky, tipped yellowish ; bill fleshy brown, 
darker in the female ; irides brown ; orbital skin yellow. 



The Plate, though very defective, will yet, I believe, suffice 
to enable sportsmen to identify any specimens they obtain. 

The female seems to be a mere preliminary sketch, which 
might, had the artist chosen to take the trouble, have been 
finished into a correct picture. 

It may be well to explain that, although this species 
closely resembles P. fasciatus, the males are distinguishable at a 
glance by the entire absence of the barring all round the lower 
throat and neck in fasciatus^ by the much bolder character of 
the barrings on the back of fasciatus, and by the abdomen in 
fasciatus being black with crescentic white marks, instead of 
white with crescentic black ones as in the present species ; the 
difference in the abdomen holds good in the females, and 
besides the whole chin and throat is spotless isabelline in the 
fasciatus female, while it is albescent, throughout closely speck- 
led, with blackish brown in the female lichtensteini. The upper 
surface of the female in both species belongs to the same type, 
but that of fasciatus is more rufous and has bolder markings. 




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Pterocles exustus. Temminck 



VoraaClllar Names. — [Bhut-titur, Bukht-titur, Kumar-tit, Kuhar, &c., N. W. Pro- 
vinces, Punjab, &c. ; Butabur, Batibun, Sind ; Popandi, B heels J Pakorade, 
Pokurdee, Pokundi, (Marathi), Khdndesh, Deccan, 6°c. ; Palki, Belgaum ; Jam= 
Polanka, (Telugu) ; Kal gowjal haki, (Kanarese), Mysore ; Kal-kondari, (Tamil.)] 




H ROUGH OUT India Proper, where the rainfall is 
moderate, the soil fairly dry, and the country open 
and tolerably level, the Common Sand-Grouse 
abounds. Towards the east and south its general 
distribution is much that of the Painted Sand-Grouse, 
though the particular localities it affects are differ- 
ent, but it is a western form which extends into India 
and not a purely Indian form, and it is common in places (for in- 
stance in Sind,) to which P. fasciatus does not extend. 

It is a bird of the level, sparsely wooded, sandy countries 
par excellence, and though it may be shot in sandy plains 
close to hills in Rajputana, unlike the Painted Sand-Grouse, 
it eschews hills, has no liking for scrub, and absolutely avoids 
damp, swampy, low-lying tracts, jungles and forests. 

Bearing this in mind, it may be said that it occurs in all 
suitable localities throughout the whole of the Punjab, Sind, 
Rajputana, the N. W. Provinces and Oudh, the western parts of 
Behar, and of Chota Nagpore, the Central Provinces and the 
Central India Agency including Bundelkhand, Berar, the Nizams 
Territory, the whole Bombay Presidency, except the sub-Ghat 
littoral * Mysore,t and the Northern and Central portions of the 
Madras Presidency. 

* Mr. Vidal writes : — 

"This species is not found at all in the Konkan, nor on the eastern slopes and 
spurs of the Western Ghats. A few birds are found on the barer plains and hill sides 
about thirty miles east of the Ghats, and as the country becomes more bare and tree- 
less, and the scrub-clad hills and spurs are replaced by the open plains of the eastern 
districts of Poona and Satara, Grouse are found plentifully. In the neighbourhood 
of the Bhima, Nira, and Yerla rivers they are especially numerous, and every 
morning and evening hundreds may be seen flying in successive small parties to 
drink all along the banks of these rivers. After drinking, the birds sun themselves 
on the bare stubbles and rocky plains for half an hour or so every morning. By 
taking up a position on the river bank close to any favourite drinking place, very 
pretty shooting may be had, and a considerable bag be made." 

+ Mr. Davidson says : — 

" This species was rather rare in Mysore, though I found a few about the Tumkur 
district." Another correspondent, however, says: — "I have met with this bird 
throughout Mysore. It is exceedingly abundant in the Chitaldroog district." 



70 THE COMMON SAND-GROUSE. 

It must not of course be forgotten that single birds of this 
species, as of many others, may now and again be met with 
quite beyond its normal limits. A single specimen of Stercora- 
rius pomatorhinus was caught at Moulmein; a single Likh 
was shot at Sandoway in Arakan ; a single Phaeton flavirostris 
at Dilkhusha in N. E. Cachar ; and a single bird of this present 
species in the Botanical Gardens, Calcutta. In this, as in all 
other cases, it is only the normal limits that I seek to define, 
though I shall always be only too glad to record the 
occurrence of stragglers beyond these. 

Outside our limits we only certainly know of its occurrence 
along the North of Africa, from Algiers, in Egypt, Palestine 
and Arabia Petraea, in Northern Nubia, and along the shores 
of the Red Sea as far south as Massowa in Abyssinia. Hutton 
tells us that it is common throughout the southern parts of 
Afghanistan. Doubtless it also occurs in Beluchistan, and pro- 
bably in many places along the Arabian Coast, if not in the 
interior, but I do not as yet accept its occurrence in either Central 
Asia, Southern Europe, or Senegambia ; all of which are locali- 
ties commonly (and as I think on insufficient evidence) assign- 
ed for this species. 

The Common Sand-Grouse, though very frequently met with 
in considerable packs numbering from twenty to two hundred 
individuals, is never, so far as my experience goes, seen in 
those enormous flocks which P. alchata and, in a somewhat 
lesser degree, P. arenarius affect. In all parts of the country 
where I have shot them, I have most frequently seen them in 
parties of from five to thirty. 

In their habits they are most regular and methodical. Al-^ 
most the moment the sun is above the horizon (except in very 
cold weather, when they are a little lazy) they may be seen 
trotting about and feeding in stubble fields, near the margins 
of scanty patches of cultivation surrounded by waste land, 
or on old fallows scantily dotted about with grass, silver-scale, 
and similar wild seed-bearing plants. 

They live wholly on seeds, and no small seeds seem to come 
amiss to them. I have found millet, grass seeds, pulses of 
various kinds, and all kinds of, to me, unknown seeds in their 
crops, but very seldom even a single insect, though I have 
noted two cases in which I found, in one ants, in the other small 
beetles, amongst the seeds. 

From about 8 to 10 A.M., according to season, they are off to 
some stream, river, or tank to drink, and where, or at times when, 
water is scarce and drinking places few and far between, very 
considerable numbers resort to the same place and afford oppor- 
tunities for very pretty sport, if several guns lie up at distances 
of from one to two hundred yards from the pool and shoot the 
birds fairly as they come and go high over head. Their flight is 



THE COMMON SAND-GROUSE. 



n 



then swift and strong, and they will carry off a good deal of shot. 
As for the native plan of lying up close to the water and potting 
party after party as they alight, I hardly think that it comes 
within the category of sport, though it may yield huge bags* 

Their approach is always notified, by their peculiar chuck- 
ling, far-reaching double call, which they continually utter dur- 
ing flight, and which, even when one is on the alert, is often the 
first intimation received of their passing over head. They may 
often be seen flying very high up, so high that, despite their pecu- 
liar shape and flight, it would be difficult to make certain what 
they were but for their far-resounding cry. 

Arrived at the water, round which, if at all alarmed, they cir- 
cle several times, they drop suddenly on to some smooth spot 
not far from the water's edge and there squat motionless, at times 
for a few seconds, at times for two or three minutes. Then 
they run quickly to the water's edge and drink a good hearty 
drink. Then they pick about a little in the sand, very often 
wash themselves freely, perhaps take a second short sip, and 
then, presto \ with one consent, the whole party is off like a 
shot. Others may be coming or going, but the several parties 
take no notice of each other. 

After the morning drink, they again resort to feeding ground, 
not that where they fed earlier, but much more open and bare 
ground, ploughed fields and perfectly open sandy plains, and 
there they feed in a desultory sort of way, now squatting, now 
toddling about, till the full heat of the day comes on, when all 
subside into little hollows or little nooks behind some clod, and 
enjoy their noontide siesta, much as I have already described 
in the case of other species. 

By 3 or 4 o'clock, according to season, earlier in cold, later 
in hot weather, they are again on the move, feeding sometimes 
where they have rested, but more commonly in some adjoining 
field or dry jhfl, to which they move, not as a rule in one 
flight, but by a series of little flights, some in the rear rising 
and settling in front, and so on. 

At from 4 to about 6 o'clock, earlier or later again according 
to season, they are off for their evening draught. If there is 
plenty of water about, they do not, according to my experience, 
go twice running to the same spot, but of course in many parts 
of Rajputana and the Punjab they have no choice; there 
may be no other water within a dozen miles, and then drink 
they must, and no amount of firing will keep the poor things off 
for that evening, though the next day they will abandon the 
neighbourhood, even though they have eggs. I know of a 



* Writing from Sind, Mr. Doig remarks : — 

u The general way of shooting them here is from the back of a camel, and a good 
many may be killed this way, but the biggest bag I have known made was obtained 
by Mr. Davidson, who hid himself close to a pool of water where these birds were 
in the habit of drinking, and in one morning before breakfast got fifty-two couple." 



72 THE COMMON SAND-GROUSE, 

case in the Sirsa District in which this cruel sport was practised 
by two guns down at the water's edge, and a great number 
killed, and during the next week a large number of eggs were 
found deserted and destroyed (I suppose by crows and 
mongooses) in what was known to be a favourite breeding place 
two or three miles from the tank. 

Towards evening they settle down for the night, in some 
quite open place, and whereas during the noonday nap, they 
are scattered far and wide in twos or threes, during the night 
they gather quite close together, I suppose for facility of watch 
and ward. 

And during the night they must keep better watch than dur- 
ing the day, for often when crossing the huge Oosur plains in 
Etawah after dark, at times after midnight, I have heard flocks 
of them rise at considerable distances from me. Moreover, I have 
never found their feathers about in the morning, as I have of so 
many ground-roosting birds, showing where a Jackal or a Fox has 
made a lucky hit. If one remembers how abundant this species 
is in many districts, and how superabundant in the same places 
Foxes, Jackals, and wild Cats, and also that the Sand-Grouse 
leaves a strong scent by which a dog will nose out a wounded 
one hidden amongst the clods of a ploughed field in a moment, 
it does speak well for their chaukidars that none of these little 
Sand-Grouse ever seem to fall victims to these midnight marau- 
ders. 

Still native fowlers will at times surprise them, and during 
dark nights, in some fashion, creep up and drop a net over the 
entire party. The net used is a very light one, a truncated 
triangle, about 8 feet wide at bottom, 4 at top, and about 4 wide, 
attached to two light slender bamboos, each about eight feet long. 
The covey is marked as it goes to roost, and then the man about 
10 o'clock (the night must be dark, and is all the better for being 
windy) steals up and drops the net over the whole pack. I went 
out several nights to try and be present at a capture, but on 
only one occasion were any caught, and then only two, but 
a few nights after, the men, who were aherias, and who were still 
in my camp, snaring ducks and quail, brought in some forty that 
they professed to have captured in this way at one haul, and they 
were polite enough to hint that it was the bad smell of a 
European that had foiled their efforts on previous occasions. 
They were, doubtless, humbugging in some way, but one thing 
is certain, that they do constantly manage to catch whole packs 
in some way or other during dark nights, and are, therefore, 
though they certainly do not look so, considerably sharper than 
" the beasts of the field/' 

Except when coming and going, as above indicated, to water- 
ing places, this species never per se, I think, yields much 
sport, as the parties are scattered far and wide, and you can 
never make sure of many shots ; but when out on what, as boys, 



THE COMMON SAND-GROUSE. 73 

we used to call a " happy-go-lucky rampage," they contribute 
not a little to the amusement. They lie close, it is true, and as a 
rule are far from shy, but they are exactly, when squatting, the 
colour of the ground ; they rise with extreme rapidity, by choice 
just behind you, or in a line with some lagging beater, and, 
even under the most favourable circumstances, it is by no means 
impossible to fire both barrels without tangible results. 

Although this species is a permanent resident and breeds with 
us, it moves about a good deal according to season, and especial- 
ly where the country is not well drained and the soil is retentive 
of moisture, they desert large tracts, which at other seasons are 
suitable to them, during a part or the whole of the rainy season. 
Jerdon alludes to this in regard to Mhow and parts of Saugor, 
but during a heavy rainy season there is scarcely a single 
clayey or deep black-soil tract, where there are no gravelly 
uplands, that does not afford an illustration of it, and every one 
knows how, during the rains, the high blown sand ridges, so 
common in Upper India, and dotted along the tops with tufts of 
Sarpatta grass, are a certain find for any Bhut-titur in the 
neighbourhood. 



This species lays almost anywhere, provided the situation is 
open and the ground dry at the time ; but the haunts it best 
loves, and where its nests may be found in greatest numbers, are 
scattered fallow or stubble, or newly-ploughed fields, dotted 
about on and surrounded by large semi-desert plains. 

As to the breeding season, I hardly know what to say. I 
have found their eggs in almost every month of the year in one 
place or another, but in the North-Western Provinces the 
majority probably lay from April to June. 

Further west and north, where the rainfall is very scanty, they 
must, I think, have two or more broods in the year. 

Khan Nizam-ud-din, Khan Bahadur, the well-known Punjab 
sportsman, who has collected for me for so many years, always 
kept up a register, showing, from day to day, the various birds 
and eggs obtained, the localities in which found, &c., and this he 
always sent me with each batch of skins and eggs. 

From his registers for 1869 and 1870, I find that he took 
nests of this present species on the subjoined dates in each year : 
this was at Arniwala, some fifteen miles east of Fazilka in the 
Sirsa District. 

1869. 1870. 

January ...... 

February 3rd, 24th. 

March 1st, 4th, 12th, 21st 

April 21st, 22nd, 27th, 28th. 

May 8th, 25th, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 15th, 28th. 

June 1 6th, 17th, 30th, nth, 15th, 21st, 30th, 

July 1st, 2nd, 5th, 10th, nth, 12th. 23rd. 

August 

IO 



74 THE COMMON SAND-GROUSE, 

1869. 1870. 

September 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 10th. 

October . 3rd, 22nd. 

November 24th. 

December 7th, 20th. 

In some cases three nests were found in a single day. 
During these two years he sent me so many eggs that I begged 
him to collect no more, and so after 1870 these eggs are never 
mentioned. 

To quote an abstract I made of his register for 1869 : " In no 
case did he find more than three eggs in one nest. In one 
instance he obtained five eggs in one spot — three in one place 
and two about 3 inches distant — but he ascertained that these 
belonged to two different pairs. Fully half of these eggs were 
found in fallow fields ; the rest in bare waste-land or desert-like 
sand. In only two cases were the eggs found in any way 
sheltered or hidden in the roots or tufts of grass. In every case 
the eggs were laid in a slight depression on the bare ground. 
No nest of any kind was met with. " 

This has also been my own experience, except that I have 
not at all unfrequently found the eggs more or less sheltered by 
low bushes, tufts of grass, or large clods. 

Mr. William Blewitt says : " On the 9th March in a field 
in the Hissar District, I found a nest of this species con- 
taining five (!) almost fully incubated eggs. They were, as 
usual, placed on the bare ground in a shallow basin scratched 
out by the birds, some 5 inches in diameter and 2 inches in 
depth. They all belonged, I believe, to one pair, but in no 
other instance did I ever meet with more than three eggs in 
any nest." 

I may note here that the Khan Sahib reported that, although 
he had never been able to meet with such a nest, the villagers, 
in localities where the birds were very common, said that they 
occasionally saw four eggs in one nest-hole. 

From the Sambhar Lake, Mr, R. M. Adam writes : " The 
Common Sand-Grouse is found here throughout the year in 
great numbers. It breeds here, and I have taken the nests in 
April and May. 

" I have seen a nest here at the root of a tuft of sarpat grass, 
the leaves of which protected the bird from the sun's rays. The 
nest had a lining of loose pieces of grass, and contained three 
eggs." 

This is another instance of the variable habits of this species, 
I must have taken at least thirty nests, the Khan Sahib fully 
double that number, and neither of us ever saw any sort of lining 
to the nest-hole, and yet not only Mr. Adam, but other good ob- 
servers, have vouched for finding more or less of a grass lining 
on many occasions. 

Captain Cock tells me that " the Common Sand-Grouse lays 
its eggs in a hollow amid loose stones (I speak of the ervirons of 



THE COMMON SAND-GROUSE. 75 

Nowshera) in the months of May and June, usually on barren 
arid ground, the heat of which is terrible at that time of year. 
I have frequently found the eggs with their albumen semi- 
coagulated from the heat, and I fancy that, if the bird left its 
eggs for any time during the heat of the day, they would be 
baked ! 

" They lay three eggs, blunt at both ends. There is no nest 
to speak of, only a bit of stick or two." 

Mr. A. Anderson remarks : "The Common Sand-Grouse breed 
throughout the Doab in March, April, and May (and no doubt 
later on), laying the orthodox number of three eggs, and never 
four, as stated by Jerdon. As a rule, there is no attempt at any- 
thing like a nest, the eggs being deposited in a slight depression 
on the bare ground scraped out by the birds, most frequently 
in an extensive plain, 

"At times they lay only a pair of eggs. On the 2nd March 
1873, when roaming over a plain covered for miles with reh* 
which gave the ground the appearance of being carpeted with 
crisp snow, I flushed a Sand-Grouse which flew up perpendicularly 
out of sight. Looking down, I found a pair of eggs, which were 
laid parallel to each other in a slight hollow, sparingly lined 
with dry grass stems. My camp being close to this place, I 
amused myself in watching the birds incubating, feeding round 
about their nest, and dusting themselves after the fashion of 
fowls. On the 4th (there being still only two), I removed the 
eggs, shooting the sitting bird, which proved to be the male* 
As I approached the nest, the bird glided off, and skulked away 
in a crouching posture, so as to avoid detection, and then 
squatted. 

" On the 19th October last, my friend Mr. Hastings took a 
clutch of eggs at Etawah, which he sent to me ; these eggs were 
either unusually late or early, as the case may be." 

" In the Deccan," writes Mr. Davidson, " it breeds from Decem- 
ber to June, eggs having been found by me in all the intervening 
months. I have never found more than three, or less than two, 
eggs, and three is the general number." 

The eggs, like those of all the other Sand-Grouse, are long and 
cylindrical, like those of a Night Jar. The texture is fine and 
smooth, and they have generally a fine gloss. Not only in shape, 
but in markings also, do many of them strongly resemble those of 
some species of Night Jar. The ground colour varies much ; in 
some it is a pale somewhat pinkish stone colour, in others greyish 
or dingy greenish white ; in some pale cafe au lait, in others a 
somewhat light olive brown. Typically they are thickly spotted, 
streaked, or irregularly blotched, pretty uniformly over the 
whole surface, with two sets of markings, the one of darker or 
lighter shades of olive brown, the other a sort of pale inky 

* A saline efflorescence, of varying composition. 



j6 THE COMMON SAND-GROUSE. 

purple, and these latter, which are most commonly streaks and 
clouds, seem to underlie the others. Different eggs vary much 
in the distribution, size, and intensity of these markings, as also 
in the relative proportion of the extent of surface covered re- 
spectively with what I may call the primary and secondary 
markings ; in some almost the whole ground colour not occupied 
by the primary markings is clouded with the pale inky purple, 
in others only here and there a few spots of this colour are trace- 
able ; in some all the markings are small, very thickly set and 
freckly, in others they are bold, large, eccentrically-shaped 
blotches, comparatively thinly distributed over the surface. Some 
of the eggs are, as a whole, very much darker-coloured than 
others, and in some the ground colour might perhaps be best 
described as a faintly greenish-grey. As a rule, the paler the 
ground the paler the markings, and vice versa. Exceptionally 
beautifully marbled eggs are met with, as also unmottled pale 
creamy varieties. I have never, however, seen one that could be 
mistaken for- an egg of fasciatus. 

The eggs vary in length from 1*32 to i'6, and in breadth from 
0*95 to I'll ; but the average of seventy eggs is 1*45 by rc>3. 



In THIS species the males average rather larger and heavier, 
and have decidedly longer tails. The following is a resume" of 
many measurements recorded in the flesh : — 

Males. — Length, 1175 to 1375 ; expanse, 21*13 to 22 "5 \ wing, 
67 to 7-5 ; tail from vent, 4*38 to 5*87 ; tarsus, 0*9 to vo\ bill 
from gape, 0*62 to 07. Weight, 8 to nearly 10 ozs. 

Females. — Length, iro to 12*25 \ expanse, 20*9 to 21*5 ; wing, 
&6 to 6*9 ; tail from vent, 4*0 to 4*8 ; tarsus, o*8 to 0*85 ; bill 
from gape, 0*6 to 0-67. Weight, 7*5 to 8*3 ozs. 

The feet and bill vary from pale slaty grey to pale plumbe- 
ous, or lavender blue; the irides are dark brown, and the 
orbital skin pale lemon yellow to pale yellowish green. 



The Plate conveys a tolerable idea of the species, though 
the colouring of the back of the male is defective, and the 
whole picture of the female is vague and sketchy and too 
little of an exact portrait. 



t 




o 
_J 

h^ GO 



O 

o 
or 



Pterocles alchata, Linne. 



Vernacular Names.— [None? 




COLD weather visitant only to our Empire, the Pin- 
tailed Sand-Grouse does little more than just cross 
our western frontier. 

It is only Trans-Indus, in Northern and Central 
Sind and the Punjab, that it is at all an abundant 
or regular visitant, but it occurs as an isolated strag- 
gler, from time to time, a good deal further east, and 
I have received specimens from near Kurrachee, from the Pun- 
jab from as far east as near Delhi, and from Rajputana 
from as far east as the Sambhar Junction. 

Outside our present limits, the Pintailed Sand-Grouse occurs 
in Eastern Afghanistan and Khelat ; whether it does so in the 
western portions of these provinces is still uncertain. It has not 
been observed in Southern Beluchistan, nor on the Persian plateau, 
and, despite what Mr. Dresser says, Mr. Blanford never saw it in any 
part of Persia that he visited. Only at Bushire, Major St John 
noticed that it appeared in enormous flocks for a few days in 
March, migrating, but whither he could not discover. Of course 
it occurs in North-Western Persia, Tabriz way, but that is in a 
distinct zoological province, to which I shall return. North of 
the Persian plateau (though it does not apparently extend 
into Eastern Turkistan, late the territory of the Ataligh Ghazi), 
it occurs pretty well throughout Western Turkestan to the Cas- 
pian. Westwards, it is common along the Caucasus, and south- 
wards into North- Western Persia and Armenia ; is found in count- 
less myriads during the cold season in Mesopotamia (Turkish 
Arabia), and has been recorded from various places in Asia 
Minor (in parts of which, as near Smyrna, it is known to breed), 
and Palestine. North of the Caucasus, it straggles into Southern 
Russia. 

That it occurs in Arabia Proper there can be little doubt, 
but of the fact I find no record. Westwards, again, it does not 
appear to occur in Egypt, Nubia, or Abyssinia, but westwards 
of Egypt it occurs (though irregularly distributed) in suitable 
localities along the whole of North and North-Western Africa, 
and there are vague indications of specimens having been 
actually obtained at the Canaries. 



?8 THE PINTAILED SAND-GROUSE, 

Northwards of the Mediterranean it has wandered^at times into 
Greece, Malta, and perhaps Sicily, and is not uncommon in suit- 
able localities in Portugal, Spain, and Southern France, while 
stragglers have been obtained in Northern France, and a single 
specimen, it is said, in Hanover. 



Of all the Sand-Grouse that inhabit or visit India, and half 
the known species do this, none habitually associate in such 
enormous flocks as the Pintail does during the cold season. 
Near Mardan, I have seen flocks of at least ten thousand, and 
in Northern Sind I know that they similarly occur at times 
in countless numbers. So, too, at Bushire and in Mesopotamia, 
I know from trustworthy observers of their being repeatedly ob- 
served, and always in gigantic packs* 

I have seen very little of this species myself, and only on a 
vast plain some miles from Hoti Mardan where, during the winter, 
they were in tens of thousands. This plain is partly barren, 
partly fallow, and partly cultivated with wheat, mustard, and 
the like. It was only on the barren and fallow land that I saw 
them. They were extremely wary, and it was only by creeping 
up a nala or small ravine that it was possible to get within 
even a long shot of them. Their flight is extremely rapid and 
powerful, to me it seemed more so than that of any of 
their congeners. They are very noisy birds, and whether seat- 
ed or flying, continually utter their peculiar cry, which, though 
somewhat of the same character as that of arenarius, is un- 
mistakeably distinct from the call note of any of the other 
species. 

Those I shot, and, according to their account, most of the 
large series previously shot by my collectors, had fed entirely on 
green leaves, seeds, small pulse, and grain of different kinds. 
The gizzards contained quantities of small stones. There were 
several pools and places where the rain floods had not quite 
dried up, on the plain I have referred to, and the birds seemed 
to sit about much in their immediate neighbourhood. 

One or two of my birds were very fat, so much so that it 
was difficult to skin them, but, as a rule, when cooked they 
were as dry and tasteless as the rest of the Sand-Grouse. 

I was told that they were occasionally hawked with 
Shaheens, but their flight is so rapid and powerful that I 
should doubt much sport being obtained this way. I was also 
told that they could be shot by working a couple of Peregrines 
over them, when they allow a very close approach and almost 
refuse to rise. 

They are easily caught in horse-hair nooses, as I myself saw. 

They leave the Punjab, I understand, by the end of March 
or early in April, and do not of course breed with us. 

* It has been surmised that this species was the " Quail" of the Israelites. 



THE PIN TAILED SAND-GROUSE, 79 

SEVERTSOFF tells us that they breed in the Tian Shan and 
Karatall ranges, at elevations of from 1,000 to 4,000 feet. I 
have seen eggs collected near Smyrna. Salvin, in his " Five 
months Bird Nesting in the Atlas," says :• — " The extensive sandy 
plains, termed the Harakta, of which El Tharf is one of the 
largest, are the only localities in which we met with this Sand- 
Grouse. It makes no nest, but scrapes a slight hollow in the 
sand, in which it deposits its three eggs. These are laid in 
May, the young being hatched about the second week in June. 
The only species of Pterocles which occur in these elevated 
districts are P. alchata and P. arenarius!' 

Canon Tristram, in his " Notes on the Ornithology of N. 
Africa," remarks : — " Though this bird does not approach so near 
the verge of cultivation northwards as arenarius^ it is far more 
generally abundant, and continues to occur in vast flocks in 
winter in the M'zah and Touarick country, where I never saw 
P. arenarius. 

" Its breeding habits are exactly like those of P. arenarius ; 
but its egg is of a much richer fawn-coloured tint, covered, and 
sometimes zoned, with large maroon red blotches, while that 
of the other is of a paler hue, with obsolete pale brown 
blotches." 

The eggs are, of course, of the usual type, elongated some- 
what cylindrical ovals, with stout glossy shells. Dresser de- 
scribes eggs that he had received from Algeria and Spain as 
'* warm clay coloured or stone ochre, with a faint reddish cream 
tinge, marked with faint purplish grey underlying shell-markings 
and dark reddish brown surface spots and blotches scattered 
tolerably closely over the surface of the egg, ,} and measur- 
ing from 17 to 1*97 in length, and from 1*22 to 1*25 in breadth, 



The MALES in this species are somewhat larger, and average 
decidedly heavier than the females. 

Males. — Length, 14 to 15*5 ; expanse, 24 to 26 ; wing, 7*96 
to 8*5 ; tail from vent, 5 to 7 ; tarsus, ro to i*i 3. Weight 
10 to 12 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 13*5 to 15 ; expanse, 24 to 25 ; wings, 
7*5 to 8*15; tail from vent, 375 to 6; tarsus, 0*97 to ri2. 
Weight, 8*25 to 11*25 ozs. 

The feet are dirty or dusky green, in one specimen yellow- 
ish ; the irides are brown ; the bill varies in colour some- 
what, and I have recorded it in different specimens, as " dusky 
green," " greenish brown," " brown," " dark brown," " slate 
colour." 



The Plate would really be perfect for a chromo, had the 
feet not been wrongly coloured. I have never seen a specimen 



80 THE PINTAILED SAND-GROUSE. 

making- any approach to the pure pale lead colour adopted by 
the artist, neither is the orbital skin quite correct, according to 
my notes and recollections. Note that in the female the upper 
of the two throat bands is almost always much broader than in 
the plate, and that the upper tail-coverts in the male are buff 
and black, and very rarely almost white and black, as in the 
specimen figured. The markings on the crown of the male 
are often obsolete. 



Besides these seven species of Pterocles (or Barefooted Sand- 
Grouse) that occur within our limits, seven other species are 
known, viz., P. personatus, from Madagascar ; P. gutturalis, 
from Southern and Eastern Africa ; P. variegatus, from Southern 
Africa ; P. namaqiia, from Palestine (?), Transvaal, and Damara 
land ; P. bicinctus, from Southern Africa ; P. qtiadricinctus, from 
Senaar, Abyssinia, and Western Africa ; and P. decoratus, of 
which a single specimen only is known, from the interior of 
Eastern Africa. Though largely represented in India, the genus 
is essentially an African one, and occurs with us, and elsewhere 
in Asia and Europe, only so far as an African element has 
percolated into these. 



K ¥m ( ^^ / 



mi iiiiii Kinrev 



Pavo cristatus, Linne. 



VemaCUlar Names.— [Mor, Upper and Central India generally ; Ta-us (Muham- 
madans, often), Lan-duri (Pea-hen), Mahratta Districts ; Menjur, Western Diiars, 
&c. ; Mujur, Nepal Tarai ; Mabja (Bhutia) ; Mong-yung (Lepcha) ; Moir, 
Moira, Assam ; Dode, Garo Hills ; Myl (Tamil) ; Nimili (Telugu) ; Nowl 
(Canarese), Mysore.'] 




N Indian Bird par excellence, the Common Pea-Fowl, 
though widely spread throughout India Proper, does 
not normally extend elsewhere except into Ceylon 
and Assam. 

Even within these limits it is not by any means 
universally spread ; it likes water and cultivation, and 
in no way shuns the abodes of men. But there 
may be too much water, cultivation, and population to suit 
its taste. For instance, though common enough in Midnapore 
and Burdwan, it does not occur wild in the 24-Pergunnahs 
(though a few have run wild from the Oudh Gardens in Garden 
Reach) or in Jessore (unless possibly in the Sundarbans), or 
in Nuddea, or in the greater part of Hooghly, and many other 
districts might be mentioned in India Proper in which it is 
either wanting or extremely scarce. 

It is not found really wild in Sind, though it has been intro- 
duced, of late years, into the Eastern Nara Districts, and occurs 
in a semi-domesticated state about Hyderabad and other places 
in Lower Sind. It does not occur in the Punjab Trans-Indus, 
nor does it, Colonel Graham assures me after careful enquiries, o- Q 
eastwards beyond the valley of Assam. 

Sadiya appears to be its easternmost limit. " I have now 
been," writes Colonel Graham, " over much of the country on both 
banks of the Brahmaputra, for 40 miles east of Sadiya, and 
have not seen a Pea-Fowl of any description, nor heard one. 

"I have further examined the Khamptis, Singphos, and 
Digama Mishmis, coming from the east, and they deny the 
occurrence of any Peacock in their direction. 

" The Common Pea-Fowl are all over Assam, but get very 
much scarcer as you go eastwards, disappearing altogether 
beyond Sadiya." 

Colonel Coomber says : — " The Pea-Fowl is common enough in 
Assam. I have met with it in every district, and on both sides 
of the Brahmaputra. I have seen no second kind. It is 

11 



82 THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 

excessively common in the Gdro Hills and in others of the hills 
south of the Assam Valley." It does not, however, Captain 
Williamson tells me, occur in the Khasi Hills. 

Heretofore the idea has been that the Common Pea-Fowl did 
not go eastwards of the Garo Hills and the low valleys running 
into these, and that elsewhere in Assam it was replaced by the 
Burmese bird ; but I can find no evidence to support this view. 
I have never been in Assam, nor have I ever seen specimens of 
Pea-Fowl thence, but at least a dozen officers now in Assam write 
to say that the Common Pea-Fowl is abundant there, and that 
they have seen no other. 

It is said to be found in Chittagong, but this requires confir- 
mation. I cannot learn that it occurs in Sylhet, or Cachar, or 
Manipur, or in the Eastern Naga Hills, or in Tipperah, so that 
it is difficult to believe in its existence wild in Chittagong, 
though it may not impossibly have been introduced there. 

In the Andamans, it has been introduced, and now, I believe, 
breeds freely there in the neighbourhood of the settlements ; for 
a long time it was entirely confined to Ross Island, where the 
vociferous cries of scores, at all hours, whenever a gun was fired 
or a gong struck, rendered it, to my notion, a serious nuisance. 

As a rule, the Pea- Fowl is not a bird of high elevations. On 
the Nilgiris I know it occurs as high as 5,000 feet at Cook's Hill, 
on the N. E. slopes of those mountains, and it may even, as 
Jerdon says so, though I have been unable to verify this, occur 
up to 6,000 feet, but it does not, I believe, ascend the Pulneys, or 
the Ceylon Hills, to elevations of above 3,000 feet ; and in the 
Himalayas, though in the river valleys it penetrates, as in Cen- 
tral Garhwal, far into the hills, it is rarely seen above 2,000 feet. 
I have however shot it at over 3,000 feet in the lower 
ranges that overlook the Dun, and at over 4,000 near Bilas- 
pur, west of Simla ; and Mr. Young writes to me that it " occurs 
in one locality in the north of Mandi-Doralban, and in Kulu 
Seoraj at an altitude of 6,000 feet, in both instances haunting one 
particular valley and not extending beyond it." I suspect, how- 
ever, that at both these localities and near Bilaspur it has been 
introduced, and when Dr. Scully, writing from Nepal, says : — 
" It is found along the outer base of the sandstone range, about 
Bishiaksh, but not in any great numbers ; it does not extend 
further into the hills, nor occur in a wild state in the valley of 
Nepal ; nor does it, to the best of my belief, ascend the hills to 
a height exceeding 2,000 feet, if even that ;" — he is only, I think, 
describing the normal distribution of the bird along the entire 
southern face of the Himalayas. 



BROKEN and jungly ground, where good cover exists, near 
water on the one hand, and cultivation on the other, is the 
favourite resort of the Pea-Fowl, and wherever this favourable 



THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 83 

combination exists within the limits indicated, there the Pea- 
Fowl is sure to abound. 

Canals, with their grass and tree-clad banks, are, in Upper 
India, pet abiding places of the Pea-Fowl. I have seen a canal 
opened out through a dry bare Doab district, where only here 
and there a few of these birds, perhaps a dozen in day's journey, 
were to be met with ; and ten years later, driving down the canal 
road (the canal by that time with high grass-clad banks and 
a belt of trees and grass on either side), I have counted several 
scores in one of the three-mile lengths that on the Ganges 
canal intervene between bridge and bridge. 

But it is not only in such seemingly suitable localities that 
this species thrives amazingly ; it is to be seen almost through- 
out Rajputana. In and about the rocky and semi-desert tracts, 
for instance, in which lie Jeypore, and the more ancient capital 
of that state, Umber, myriads of Pea-Fowl are to be met with. 
Everywhere throughout Upper India* a certain superstitious 
reverence attaches to the Pea-Fowl, and the mass of the popula- 
tion more or less dislike their slaughter ; but in these Native 
States the prohibition is absolute, and no man, Native or 
European, can or does molest them, though tigers and leopards, 
if the people speak truly, are less amenable to authority. 

Talking of these, is there, I would ask, any foundation for 
the universal belief that exists amongst natives throughout 
the length and breadth of the land, that these beasts feed 
largely on Pea-Fowl ; that when these latter are surprised, espe- 
cially by leopards, the cocks either fly at and buffet the leopards, 
or else stand paralysed with fear, in either case falling an easy 
prey to the cruel cat ? 

The late Colonel Tytler used to relate how one day, when stalk- 
ing a Peacock, he was surprised to find that he had suddenly 
closely approached it, and that, bestowing no thought on him, it 
seemed intently gazing on a tiny patch of jungle just in front. 
Halting for a moment, he discovered a leopard stealthily crawl- 
ing on its belly through the jungle towards the Peacock. He was 
much astonished ; he had never heard of leopards in the neigh- 
bourhood, but his astonishment exceeded all bounds when, on 
his raising the gun (he had ball in one barrel), and covering the 
leopard, it suddenly threw up both its paws and shrieked in a 
voice hoarse with terror " Nehin Sahib, Nehin Sahib, mitt chulao" 
(No sir, No sir, don't fire). He said that for a moment he 

* Mr. Reid, however, writes : — " So far as I know, the natives of Oudh nowhere 
object to Pea-Fowl being shot ; but if asked whether there are any in the neighbour- 
hood, they will most likely reply in the negative. Generally speaking, however, there 
is no difficulty in getting them to give information, and frequently, without being 
asked, they will suggest a little Pea-Fowl shooting, and themselves enter enthusiasti- 
cally into the sport. 

" Although sportsmen, as a rule, do not care about shooting Pea-Fowl, it is as well 
that they should know that dogs are preferable to beaters for flushing the birds. 
They will hide from man, but rise at once when they find a dog on their track. In 
thick jungle, two or three plucky terriers answer the purpose admirably." 



84 THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 

thought he must be going mad, floods of reminiscences of 
enchanted princes, fairy tales, wehr-wolves, and the like, 
flashed like lightning through his mind. The next, he saw 
a man very cleverly got up in a leopard skin, with a well- 
stuffed head, and a bow and arrows in one paw, standing before 
him. 

From this man he learnt that he was a professional fowler, and 
that thus disguised he always pursued Pea-Fowl, as whenever 
able to get anywhere near them, they always allowed him to 
approach near enough to shoot them with his bow, or at times 
even to seize them with his hands. 

Great numbers are noosed and snared by native fowlers, who 
imitate the cry of the male to perfection. In doing this, the 
fowler usually places one hand on his mouth and evolves the 
sound, apparently, from the depths of his chest. 

The Pea-Fowl is at times omnivorous, and land-shells, insects 
of all kinds, worms, small lizards, and even tiny frogs may be 
found in their crops, but by choice I think they feed on grain 
and tender juicy shoots of grass and flower-buds, and I have 
scores of times examined their stomachs without finding a 
trace of anything else, although, had they been so minded, 
animal food of all kinds abounded around them. 

Where numerous, they do much damage to cultivation, and 
being excessively fond of the buds of trees, are also very de- 
structive to young plantations. 

Nothing can be more charming than Colonel Tickell's account 
of this species : — 

" Although Pea-Fowl are scattered over the forests of Central 
and South-Central India, they are much more numerous in the 
Trans-Gangetic provinces, and all along the Tarai. p In the nor- 
therly parts of Tirhoot, on the Nepal frontier, I have seen up- 
wards of fifty or sixty on the wing at a time, making for the 
forests when roused up by our elephants. So common, indeed, 
is this bird in the parts of India above enumerated, and so tame, 
and so much do the natives dislike their being killed, that the 
sportsman seldom molests them. Nevertheless, a Peachick is 
by no means to be despised on the table, and an old bird, cock 
or hen, furnishes grand stock for a tureen of good soup. 

" To the south of the Ganges, the Peacock confines himself 
entirely to the wooded and hilly tracts, especially near cultiva- 
tion, feeding at daybreak and dusk, and withdrawing at other 
times into the thickest jungle. In these countries — Rajmehal, 
the Daman-i-koh, Beerbhoom, Midnapoor, Chota Nagpore, Singh- 
bhoom, and so on, south to Sambalpur and Cuttack — it is as 
shy and wild as in Northern India it is tame and confiding ; in 
fact, it is almost as difficult to stalk a deer as an old Peacock, 
and in my earlier years in India many a weary hour of profitless 
labour have I spent in endeavouring to creep within shot of 
some splendid fellow whose glorious train excited my ornitho^ 



THE COMMON PEA-FOWL, 85 

logical cupidity. When followed in this manner, without a dog, 
the Peacock keeps running before the sportsman, gliding and 
slipping through apparently impervious thickets, occasionally 
stopping in some patch of grass, from whence, with outstretched 
neck, he regards his pursuer ; and at length, if hard pressed, 
rising heavily on wing and flying far into the densest covert, 
leaving the baffled " gunner" to make the best of hip way out 
into the open, where the morning sun may dry his clothing 
drenched with the chilling dew. Of an evening, one may 
obtain a good shot or two by walking through the jungle skirt- 
ing a field of wheat, rice, or vetch, some fifty yards in advance 
of two or three beaters, who are instructed to keep that distance 
from you. Pea-Fowl thus invaded in the thick tangle of a 
luxuriant crop run very little, and will rise just in advance of 
the beaters, so as to give the sportsman a fair shot. A good 
thing is valued the more for its scarcity. The Peacock is suffi- 
ciently rare in the parts of India I am now referring to, to be 
there prized accordingly ; and to see a magnificent fellow, with 
his long train, coming over you, and then tumble him over — ■ 
head over heels, head over heels — with a thump on the ground 
as he crashes through the boughs, is by no means an unpleasant 
sight, to say nothing of its being very pretty ball practice. 

" Pea-Fowl roost at night on high trees. The highest they 
can get in the jungle they inhabit ; but they select the lowest 
branches for their perch. They are rather late in roosting ; I 
have heard them flying up to their berths long after sunset, and 
when the Night Jars had been for some time abroad, flitting 
over the dusky jungle. The cock bird invariably leads the 
way, rising suddenly from the brushwood near the roosting 
tree, with a loud " kok-kok-kok-kok," and being presently fol- 
lowed by his harem — four or five hens. If marked to their 
roosting place, and if it be a clear moonlight night, they may 
be easily shot, for, not knowing where to go, they will frequently 
remain on the tree till fired at two or three times. When forced 
to quit, they fly towards the ground, and pass the rest of the 
night as well as they can, sometimes falling a prey to leopards 
or wild cats. If there are hills in the jungle, the Pea-Fowl select 
some prominent tree on the top, or half-way up. In the Nil- 
giris and other mountain regions in Southern India, says 
Jerdon, this bird ascends to the height of 6,000 feet above the 
sea ; but in Sikhim (Darjeeling) and other parts of the Hima- 
laya, not higher than 2,000 feet. For my part I have never 
seen Pea-Fowl at any elevation above the Tarai, though I have 
rambled about the hills in Sikhim at Pankabari, and near 
Bichiako, and Harrakwari, on the Nepal frontier. In the jungle 
mahals and Singhbhoom, the Pea-Fowl roost on small hills, 
but descend to the cultivated valleys to feed. On the loftier 
hills of those regions, such as Dalma, Parasnath, and the 
Chutia range above the Damoodur, I have never met with them. 



86 THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 

" In the months of December and January the temperature 
in the forests of Central India, especially in the valleys, is very 
low, and the cold, from sudden evaporation, intense at sunrise. 
The Pea-Fowl in the forests may be observed at such times still 
roosting, long after the sun has risen above the horizon. As 
the mist rises off the valleys, and gathering into little clouds, 
goes rolling up the hill-sides till lost in the ethereal blue, the 
Pea-Fowl descend from their perch on some huge simal or sal 
tree, and, threading their way in silence through the underwood, 
emerge into the fields, and make sad havoc with the channa, 
urad (both vetches), wheat, or rice. When sated, they retire 
into the neighbouring thin jungle, and there preen themselves, 
and dry their bedewed plumage in the sun. The cock stands 
on a mound, or a fallen trunk, and sends forth his well-known 
cry, "pehau^ — pehau/z," which is soon answered from other 
parts of the forest. The hens ramble about, or lie down 
dusting their plumage, and so they pass the early hours while 
the air is still cool, and hundreds of little birds are flitting and 
chirruping about the scarlet blossoms of the " palas " or the 
" simal." As the sun rises, and the dewy sparkle on the foliage 
dries up, the air becomes hot and still, the feathered songsters 
vanish into shady nooks, and our friends, the Pea-Fowl, depart 
silently into the coolest depths of the forest, to some little sandy 
stream canopied by verdant boughs, or to thick beds of reeds 
and grass, or dense thorny brakes overshadowed by mossy 
rocks, where, though the sun blaze over the open country, the 
green shades are cool, and the silence of repose unbroken, 
though the shrill cry of the cicada may be heard ringing faintly 
through the wood. 

" These birds cease to congregate soon after the crops are 
off the ground. The pairing season is in the early part of the 
hot weather. The Peacock has then assumed his full train, that 
is, the longest or last rows of his upper tail-coverts, which he 
displays of a morning, strutting about before his wives. These 
strange gestures, which the natives gravely denominate the 
Peacock's nantch, or dance, are very similar to those of a turkey- 
cock, and accompanied by an occasional odd shiver of the quills, 
produced apparently by a convulsive jerk of the abdomen. 
The same thing occurs in a turkey-cock — a little start and a 
puff and a short run forward, as if something had exploded 
unpleasantly close behind him. These are all blandishments, 
we are told, to allure the female, and doubtless have a most 
fascinating effect." 

Mr. Reid remarks that : — 

" Taking Oudh as a whole, Pea-Fowl are found abundantly 
wherever suitable localities occur, and they are specially numer- 
ous in the Tarai. They abound in the extensive dhak and 
thorn jungles so characteristic of many parts of the province, 
and the banks of rivers and nalas passing through these are 



THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 87 

never-failing resorts. Forests with plenty of brushwood, well- 
wooded ravines and bamboo brakes, are all favourite haunts ; 
while they may also be found in a semi-domesticated state, 
dodging about village pan-fields, gardens and groves. 

" They appear to be pretty regular in their habits, frequent- 
ing the same feeding-grounds by day, and returning to the 
same perch at night. Towards dusk they may be seen flying 
into the solitary banyan, and other wild-fig trees, that here 
and there rise above the level of the surrounding jungle, and 
segregated thus, it is not an unusual thing to hear them calling 
to and answering each other at all hours of the night. 

" They rest in thickets during the heat of the day, and come 
forth to the fields and open glades to feed in the mornings and 
evenings. 

" They live for the most part on grain when procurable, but 
do not object to insects and grubs, and — sorry am I to say it — 
snakes ! Years ago — I kept no notes at the time, but remember 
the circumstance well — my cook took a small snake, about 8 
inches long, from the stomach of one which I had given him 
to clean." 

Adams tells us that : — 

" At Kallar Kahar, in the Salt Range of the Punjab, there 
are several shrines where the Pea-Fowl collect from the neighbour- 
ing jungles to be fed by the fakirs and religious devotees. There 
at break of day, as the sportsman is clambering over the rough 
sides of the ravines in quest of Oorial {Ovis vignii), he will 
often be struck with the scene, as hundreds of male Pea-Fowl, in 
all their native elegance and beauty, dash down the glens with 
a rapidity of flight unknown to the denizens of the English farm- 
yard. Many sportsmen ignore this species, and will not allow 
it a place in their game-list. It is true that in many localities 
they might be killed with little trouble ; but among the dense 
and tangled jungles of the lower Himalayan ranges, it is wild 
and wary." 

" Pea-Fowl," says Burgess, " abound in the jungles, clothing the 
slopes of the ghats, and in some wooded districts in the 
interior. In the Deccan, in the wooded hilly portions of the 
districts of Jainkhair and Scogao, they were plentiful ; and a 
remarkably pretty sight it was to see them stalking about near 
the grain-stacks, or running along the bushy banks of the 
nalas. They are wary birds, and lead the sportsman a good 
chase when once they take to the low spurs of the hills, up 
which they run with incredible swiftness. The best plan to 
secure them is to wait for their roosting-time, under the trees 
to which they resort. Thick mango trees appear to be their 
favourite resting places." 

Mr Vidal sends me the following note : — 
" In the Ratnagiri District, Pea-Fowl are found here and there 
sparingly in suitable localities. Near the coasts they affect the 



88 THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 

steep slopes that overhang the large tidal creeks, if well clad 
with trees and bushy undergrowth. Going up these rivers in a 
boat, Pea- Fowl may often be seen and heard about sunset, as they 
come down to the river banks to feed before roosting. Inland 
they resort to large temple forests with luxuriant undergrowth, 
hill-side jungles, and well-wooded ravines. They are also found 
sparingly in the Sahyadri forest, both on the summit and the 
western and eastern slopes. 

" In no part of Ratnagiri are Pea- Fowl kept in a state of 
semi-domesticity as in other parts of India, and they are conse- 
quently wild and shy wherever found. 

" In the Satara and Poona districts east of the Ghats, Pea- 
Fowl are found in large Babul (Acacia arabica) thickets, and in 
hill-side jungles, where the latter exist. In many parts of these 
districts Pea-Fowl are both plentiful and comparatively tame. 
In some native states, such as Sangli and Miraj in the Southern 
Mahratta Country, Pea- Fowl are jealously preserved. 

" In the jungles and forests Pea-Fowl eat various fruits and 
berries, such as the Wild Fig (Covillia glomerata) and the 
Korinda, (Carissa carandas). In the neighbourhood of cultivated 
ground the crop they particularly affect is maize." 

Mr. Sanderson, so well known by his charming work on 
Elephant-catching and sport in Mysore, writes to me: — "Pea-Fowl 
are common throughout Mysore in the lighter belt of jungle 
that intervenes between heavy forests and cultivation, and in 
detached low ranges of scrub-covered hills in the open country. 
They are encouraged in places by the owners of cocoanut and 
other gardens, as it is a common native belief that they are 
enemies to snakes. They feed in the grain fields bordering on 
jungles, and do considerable damage when the grain is nearly 
ripe, and they move considerable distances at different seasons, 
tempted by ripening crops or jungle fruits. 

" Pea-Fowl usually commence their discordant cries at half 
past two in the morning, and not unfrequently cry at intervals 
throughout moonlight nights. They raise a shrill clamour 
during the day on seeing tigers or other beasts of prey, or at 
unusual sounds, such as the firing of a gun in the jungles. 

" Pea-Fowl run very fast, but the old cocks, burthened with 
tails six feet in length, are poor flyers, and I have frequently 
seen my men run them down during the hot hours of the day 
by forcing them to take two or three long flights in succession, 
in places where they could be driven from one detached patch 
of jungle to another. 

" The old cocks are in full plumage from June to December, 
and then cast their trains. 

" Pea-Fowl are, perhaps, the most wary of all jungle creatures. 
In beating for large game, where the sportsmen are posted 
ahead in trees, their presence may pass undetected by other 
animals, but rarely by Pea-Fowl. 



THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 89 

" I have shot them on bright moonlight nights by beating 
the trees situated near cultivated lands where they are known 
to roost, and, on the 1st September 1872, I made a day after 
Pea-Fowl in lieu of Partridges, in some islands near Mandigiri, 
in the Hamavati river in Mysore, and by posting markers along 
both banks of the river, to prevent the birds taking to the main 
land, I bagged twelve cocks in full plumage after a day's hard 
work. The Natives have no feeling against their being shot in 
Mysore. 

" I once shot a hen of a uniform dirty yellow colour, and 
saw another like her in the same locality. 

" The native trappers imitate the various cries of these birds, 
without any artificial aids to the voice, very cleverly, and 
decoy them into snares laid for them. When caught, the bird's 
eyes are immediately closed by the stem of a feather being passed 
through both eyelids, so as to sew them together ; they are 
then placed on a perch, and do not move though carried from 
place to place." 

Albino, or at any rate white varieties, or nearly white ones, 
occasionally, as noticed by Mr. Sanderson, occur wild. They 
have quite a permanent breed at home of this white bird, and 
most of the white specimens that we see in menageries of Rajas 
here have been brought out from Europe by Jamrach and others ; 
but I have known one or two of these shot in quite wild out-of- 
the-way places. Thus Dr. King showed me at Dehra a skin of a 
white specimen, a female, that had been shot in the wilds of 
the Eastern Dun, which precisely resembled the bird that 
Mr. Elliot figures as the female of another variety, commonly 
known as the Japanned Peacock, Pavo nigripetmis, of Sclater. 
This latter variety has never yet been met with except in capti- 
vity, and it would be well for sportsmen to examine the specimens 
they shoot, and see if they ever do meet with it in a wild state. 

In nigripennis the whole of the scapulars and wing-coverts 
(which in the common Peacock are cream-coloured with trans- 
verse blackish markings) are black, with narrow green edgings, 
which towards the carpal joint become bluish ; the metallic green 
of the back is of a more golden tint, and the thighs are black 
instead of being pale drab as in cristatus. 

Some people maintain that this is a distinct species of which 
the habitat is as yet unknown ; others consider it merely a variety 
that has arisen in captivity in Europe. It would be extremely 
interesting should it prove to occur wild, and any one shooting 
such a bird should preserve the skin, however roughly. 

The Pea-Fowl, according to my experience, lives pretty much 
all the year round and breeds in the same neighbourhood. 
Colonel Tickell talks of multitudes of them migrating 100 to 
150 miles yearly from the plains to the Tarai, but I have had 
no experience of this. 

12 



90 THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 

Canal banks fringed with trees, and traversing rich cultivation 
are, as I have already remarked, their especial delight, and in 
such localities I have found a great many nests, my search for 
them being stimulated by the conviction that a wild Peahen's 
eggs are delicious eating, far preferable to a Turkey's, or indeed 
to any other gallinaceous bird's eggs that I have ever tried. 

Their nests are not confined to the plains, but in the Hima- 
layas, Nilgiris, and other suitable ranges occur up to elevations 
of from 1,000 to 2,000 feet, and in the Nilgiris, it is said, to 5,000 
feet. 

The great majority of our Pea-Fowl in Upper India lay during 
July and August, but I have found eggs as late as the middle of 
October. The nest is made in amongst thick grass or in dense 
bushes, often on a sloping bank, and is a broad depression 
scratched by the hen, and lined with a few leaves and twigs, or 
a little grass. I have never myself found eggs in the abnormal 
situations described below by Mr. A. Anderson.* 

I have never found more than eight eggs in any nest, and I 
think that six or seven are the usual complement ; but natives 
say (and see also Miss Cockburn's remarks) that they lay at 
times much larger numbers. 

Captain G. F. L. Marshall says : — " The Pea-Fowl breed 
during the rains in the Saharanpur, Bulandshahr and Aligarh 
districts. The eggs are laid on the ground, usually among the 
thick underwood on the canal banks. 

" Near Bulandshahr, I got six eggs on the 27th July ; the shell 
is much pitted, pure fawn colour in some, and stained with darker 
brown in others. 

" Again, in the Aligarh District, I found four fresh eggs on the 
5th August ; they were laid on the bare ground, inside, but near 
the edge of an old heap of dry sticks, round which grass had 
sprung up tall and thick ; this small thicket was in an open 
plain close to a road with no bushes or other undergrowth near. 

" But they sometimes breed later, and choose more exposed 
situations even than this. On the 31st August I took three fresh 
eggs laid without any attempt at concealment whatever : they 
were on the ground on a dry patch amongst very short grass 
under the trees on the canal bank ; there was no undergrowth, 
and the eggs could be seen from some distance." 

Mr. R. M. Adam remarks : — " I had eggs of this species brought 
to me in Agra on the 14th October. The eggs were a good 
deal incubated." 

Mr. A. Anderson writes to me that " the Pea-Fowl breeds in 
the North-Western Provinces during June, July and August, the 
latter being about the most general month. About November, 
the young birds are the size of chickens, and are then well 
worth shooting for the table. Sometimes, though rarely, I have 

* Mr. Whitten, however, tells me that he once found a nest near Chomoha, 
on the top of a large haystack. 



THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 9 1 

seen ten and twelve chicks following one hen ; but these, no 
doubt, are amalgamated broods, for I have never found more 
than six eggs in one nest (I believe, however, that they occasion- 
ally lay up to seven or eight), and sometimes only three 
or four. 

" Three years ago, a chaprassi, who, from long practice, had 
become somewhat arboreal in his habits, brought me three fresh 
Pea-Fowl's eggs from an old nest of Gyps bengalensis. Shortly 
afterwards I saw the nest, which was situated on a huge 
horizontal bough of a Burgot, in the centre of some Dhak 
jungle, and on which all the Pea- Fowl in the neighbourhood were 
in the habit of roosting. I have every reason to believe my 
chaprassi, because he had no object in wishing to deceive me, 
and my own experience is in favour of these birds laying at 
high elevations (the same remark is applicable to a good many 
gallinaceous birds), for I have on several occasions taken their 
eggs from the roofs of huts in deserted villages, high mounds, 
and from the tops of masonry mosques on which rank vegetation 
grew to the height of two or three feet." 

From the Nilgiris Miss Cockburn writes : — " The Peahen lays 
from ten to fifteen eggs and forms a nest by scratching a slight 
place in the ground, and gathering a few dry leaves and sticks. 
The eggs are generally found in June and July, and are a dingy 
buffy white." 

The eggs are typical Rasorial ones, much like gigantic Guinea- 
fowls' eggs, with thick, very strong and glossy shells, closely 
pitted over their whole surface with minute pores, which are, 
however, more deeply indented and more conspicuous in some 
specimens than others. In shape, they vary much ; some are 
very broad, some decidedly elongated ovals, so that some more 
resemble in shape an English Pheasant's eggs, and others are 
more like a Turkey's : all are more or less pointed towards the 
small end. The colour, within certain limits, also varies much ; 
some are almost pure white, others are a rich cafe an lait or 
reddish buff; others, again, are dingy yellowish buff, but typically 
they are a pale pinkish cafe an lait colour. Occasionally speci- 
mens are met with thickly freckled with pale reddish brown, 
feeble reproductions of the Moonal's eggs ; but the vast majority 
are entirely unspotted. 

In length they vary from 2*55 to 3*0, and in breadth from 
1*92 to 2'2 ; but the average of forty eggs is 274 by 2*05. 



Males, measure. — Length, 80 to 92 ; to end of true tail only, 40 
to 46 ; the train in full breeding plumage projects from 40 to 
48 inches (and, I have been assured, even 54 inches) beyond the 
end of the true tail ; wing, 18 to 19 ; tail from vent, 18 to 21 ; 
tarsus, 5-5 to 575 ; bill from gape, 1*9. Weight, 9 to n^lbs. 



92 THE COMMON PEA-FOWL. 

Females. — Length, 36 to 40; wing, 1575 to 16*5 ; tail from 
vent, 1275 to 14*5 ; tarsus, 5*0 to 5*2 ; bill from gape, 17 to r8. 
Weight, 6 to 8^ibs. 

The bill is brownish horny ; lower mandible paler and almost 
white at base ; legs and feet greyish brown ; irides dark brown ; 
naked skin of face white to greyish hoary. 



The Plate. — The bird is so well known that we considered 
It unnecessary to give any separate plate of it ; but a smaller 
figure of it has been introduced below that of the Burmese 
Pea-Fowl, so as to enable the leading differences between the two 
species to be seized at a glance, 




f#t$/ff 




*f 



HM 







PAVO MUTICUS 



Pavo muticus, Linne. 



Vernacular Names.— [Doun, Doung, Oodoung, (Burmese^ ; Marait, (Talain) ; 
Toosia, (Karen) ; Bourong Ma rah, (Malay) ; Pegu-majura, (Bengali ;) 
Calcutta.] 




HE Eastern Pea-Fowl nowhere advances within the 
limits of India Proper. 

It has been said to occur in Assam, and it may 
possibly do so, but all my recent enquiries lead to a 
contrary conclusion. 

It occurs in Arakan, in Pegu, and throughout 
Tenasserim to the Pakchan, but is very rare in the 
dry upper parts, and is everywhere a bird very locally distributed. 
In the northern portions of the Malay Peninsula it is not un- 
common ; at a village called Yian, not far from Keddah, for 
instance, it is extremely (for this species) abundant, but it does 
not, so far as my collectors have ascertained, extend as far 
south as Malacca. 

It has been recorded from Siam, and is in parts of Java very 
plentiful, but though the contrary has often been asserted, there 
seems no good reason to believe that it occurs in either Sumatra 
or Borneo. 

It is well to notice that our Arakan and Tenasserim race is 
said to be darker and less vividly green than the Javan one. 



In MANY respects, as regards habits, food, and modes of life, 
the Eastern bird closely resembles the Indian one, but there is 
this essential difference, at any rate everywhere within our limits, 
that the Eastern bird is never found in thousands, throughout un- 
broken stretches of country a hundred or more miles in length, 
as the Indian bird is, but only in small colonies in isolated spots, 
w r henceyou may often travel fifty or a hundred miles before 
coming across another colony. 

Like its congener, it moves about feeding morning and 
evening, advancing into fields, if there happen to be cultiva- 
tion near at hand, at these times, and retreating during the day 



94 THE EASTERN OR BURMESE PEA-FOWL. 

to dense cover. At night, of course, it roosts upon trees, and 
its call-note, like that of the Indian bird, which it closely 
resembles, is a harsh mew, mew, mew, which one might fancy 
to be the cry of some gigantic tom-cat in distress. 

Very little is on record about this species, and even Colonel 
Tickell tells us next to nothing about it, but he writes so charm- 
ingly, and wraps his nothing so nicely in silver paper, that I am 
fain to quote what he says : — 

" The habits of Pavo mictions are so similar to those of its 
congener as scarcely to admit of separate description ; but I 
should say it was a still more strictly sylvan or forest-haunting 
bird. Cultivation does not appear to entice it far from its leafy 
fastnesses, as it does the Bengal species, and it is in con- 
sequence more secluded, wilder, and difficult of approach, be- 
sides being far less numerous. I have never seen more than 
three or four of the Burman Pea-Fowl together, whereas the 
Bengal species unite in flocks of 30, 40, or 50. It haunts the 
thickest jungle, whether on level ground or on the sides of 
small hills, and is frequently found in the masses of elephant 
grass which so commonly skirt the smaller brackish creeks and 
nallas of Arakan. A specimen with a full train is seldom seen 
except in the beginning of the rains, which is the season of court- 
ship. About August they moult, drop their long ocellated tail- 
coverts, and assume the simpler green-barred ones. The train 
appears again in the succeeding March or April ; but the 
moulting of this bird appears to be irregular, and I have seen 
cock birds with fine flowing trains in January and February. 
The hen incubates in the rains, but at uncertain periods ; the 
young just hatched have been brought to me at Moulmein at 
different times, from August till January. The eggs cannot be 
distinguished from those of the Bengal bird. 

" The best, and certainly the pleasantest, way of shooting these 
birds is from a canoe, in the evening, when they come to the 
water to drink. The vast forests in Amherst, one of the dis- 
tricts of Tenasserim, are permeated by numerous streams, 
which form the only practicable roads through many parts of 
them. Such are the Houngthrau, the Wynyo, the Zummee, 
the Ataran, and some others. Near the hills from whence they 
issue these small rivers are beautifully clear, rippling over beds 
of white sand, or clean rocks free from weed. And nothing can . 
be more luxurious than to float down them with a couple of 
Karens or Talains paddling now and then just sufficiently to 
allow of steerage way, and with an old fellow squatted astern 
at the helm. The air is cool on these crystal waters, and the 
boat glides smoothly and silently along, while each turn of the 
meandering stream brings some fresh beautiful prospect into 
view. Now we pass beneath a lofty roof of verdure, where 
giant trees on either side meet overhead, and, interlacing their 
foliage, cast a green shadow on the limpid pool Bright flowers 



THE EASTERN OR BURMESE PEA-FOWL. 95 

clustering on parasites and creepers in endless variety, with 
orchids of every hue and fantastic shape, enliven the lovely 
avenue. Suddenly we sweep into a rock-girt space, where the 
grey walls inclose a pool so deep that the ribbed sand and 
boulders of the bottom melt away from view. Anon the boat 
emerges into a broader part, where shallows break the stream 
into many brawling currents, and the trees, retiring farther from 
us, disclose to view the purple mountains peering through their 
upper branches. In such spots as these, when the sun begins 
to draw near the western horizon, and the shades of evening 
gather over the water and the silent shore, the sportsman may 
get several snap-shots, before darkness settles on the banks, at 
Jungle Fowl, Pea-Fowl, Hill Pheasants {Euplocomus), or perhaps 
a Deer. If there be small islets in the river, covered with high 
grass or bush, he should search every one, sending a boatman 
on shore to beat the cover. Pea-Fowl and Jungle Fowl are very 
fond of emerging from the heavy jungle towards evening if all 
is quiet, and flying into such islets, where they scratch about 
in the sand, drink at the margin, and roost for the night, if 
undisturbed, secure from jungle cats. 

" Karens have the same notion or idea as the Hindustanis 
entertain of the Tiger and Pea-Fowl affecting the same locality ; 
and on the Ataran River a painful confirmation of this opinion 
occurred some twenty years ago. A gentleman was travelling 
up that stream in a boat to visit some teak forests, and one 
morning, hearing the cry of a Peacock on the bank, stepped on 
shore with his gun to shoot the bird. It ran before him, allur- 
ing him farther into the jungle, till about a couple of hundred 
yards from the water-side he was seized and killed by a tiger 
before help could reach him." 



I HAVE not many measurements of this species, but I note 
that birds, even in full plumage, seem to vary much in size 
according to age. 

The total length of the finest bird of which I have a record, 
from the tip of the bill to the end of the train, was 90 inches. 
The following are the details of all the males we have measured 
and weighed in the flesh : — 

Length, to end of true tail, 40*0 to 48-0 ; train, projects 
beyond end of tail from 24-0 to 44-0 ; expanse, 50-5 to 6o*o ; 
wing, 1675 to 1975 ; tail from vent, 15-5 to 17-5 ; tarsus, 5*5 
to 6*3 ; bill from gape, 1*95 to 2*5. Weight, 8*5 to iro lbs. 

Legs and feet dark horny brown ; bill dark horny brown ; 
lower mandible pale near base ; irides dark brown. 

The facial skin is of two colours — smalt blue and chrome 
yellow. 

The blue runs from a point in front of and below the nostrils, 
where it is palest, to the gape, and from thence in a curved 



96 THE EASTERN OR BURMESE PEA-FOWL. 

line past, and 0*15 in front, of the orifice of the ear to within 
0*35 of the top of the head, from thence curving round over 
the eye, and about 0*2 above it, down to the point below the 
nostrils already referred to ; the blue is brightest just behind 
the eye. 

The chrome yellow extends as a broad irregular band over 
the posterior portion of the face, immediately behind the blue. 
It is widest on the cheeks, where it may be 0'8 wide, and 
narrowest at the aural orifice, which it encloses, where it may 
be 0'45 wide. It begins at the gape and goes up as high as the 
blue. A broad patch of small scaly metallic green feathers runs 
across the blue from near the gape up to and just touching the 
lower margin of the eye. A line of similar feathers runs imme- 
diately over the eye, curving up a little posteriorly. A tiny 
patch of somewhat similar feathers above the aural orifice, and 
it is about this part that the chrome yellow is brightest ; at the 
line of junction of the blue and yellow, the colours become 
slightly intermingled, the blue being perceptibly tinged with 
yellow, and the yellow with blue, producing a dirty greenish 
shade. 



The Plate, though very fair, is not as a whole green enough, 
and is on too small a scale to show the colouring of the face well ; 
the blue of the latter is much too pale, and the legs are too 
light coloured. 

It may be well to mention, in case the plate does not make 
this sufficiently clear, that the Eastern Peacock is distinguished 
at a glance by the peculiar colouring of the face just described, 
and by its long occipital crest of straight, stiff, narrow feathers, 
with the greater portion of the webs, except just at the base, 
metallic blue, shaded with green ; the longest of these crest 
feathers is sometimes nearly five inches in length. The entire 
forehead, crown, and anterior part of the occiput is covered with 
closely set scaly feathers, black at their bases, of which little is 
seen, and tipped with brilliant metallic blue, shaded with green. 
The feathers of the neck, all round, and breast are brown at the 
bases, which are completely hidden by the overlapping of the 
feathers, and at the tip have a broad band of bronze, greenish 
in some lights, vinous in others. Outside, this band is exces- 
sively narrowly margined with black, and inside this black line 
is an equally narrow golden green one ; inside the bronze band 
the feathers are deep blue at the shaft, shading off to bright 
green ; on the front of the neck nothing but the bronze band is 
seen. On the back of the lower neck just the points of the blue 
are visible, and on the breast the whole of the blue and green is 
more or less exhibited. Just where the head joins the neck at 
the sides and in front, the feathers are deep violet blue, greener, 
however, in some lights, tipped with green and some of them 
with bronze. 



THE EASTERN OR BURMESE PEA-FOWL. 97 

Lastly, whereas in P. cristalus all the lesser wing-coverts, the 
tertiaries and all their coverts, and the scapulars, are conspicu- 
ously barred and variegated with black on a rufescent or buffy 
white ground, in muticus these parts are uniform and unbarred. 



Only these two species of Pea-Fowl are known to exist, 
though it is just possible (though not probable) that the supposed 
variety, P . nigripennis, already referred to under the common 
Pea-Fowl, may prove to be entitled to specific rank. 



13 



I1HKHIK £0E llWBkWI! 



Argus giganteus, Temminck. 



Vernacular Names.— [Quou, Borong Quou, (Malay) ; Kyek-wah, (Siamese) 
Bankasoon.~\ 




DENIZEN of the densest forest tracts, it is only in the 
neighbourhood of the Pakchan River, that forms the 
extreme southern boundary of Tenasserim, that the 
true Argus Pheasant occurs within our limits. 
Sportsmen in Upper India persistently call our 
Tragopans, Argus Pheasants, but a glance at the 
plates will show how totally different the two are. 
Mergui is often quoted as a habitat for this species, and in one 
sense this is correct, for the huge Mergui district, one might 
almost call it a province, does extend to the Pakchan, but the 
Mergui of maps, the town, is some 150 miles distant from the 
nearest forests in which (so far as we have been able to ascertain) 
the Argus roams. 

In the Malay Peninsula we personally know of its occurrence 
from Kraw and Renong, on the southern banks of the Pakchan, 
right down to Johore, the extreme southernmost point of the 
Peninsula. It also occurs, according to Raffles and others, in 
Sumatra, and, Mouhot says, in Siam, but its exact limits east- 
wards on the continent have yet to be defined. 

No European has ever, I believe, shot any number, if indeed 
any, of this species but my friend Mr. Davison, and I shall there- 
fore reproduce entire his account of it, lately published in our 
joint paper on the Birds of Tenasserim : — 

" They live quite solitarily, both males and females. Every male 
has his own drawing room, of which he is excessively proud, 
and which he keeps scrupulously clean. They haunt exclusive- 
ly the depths of the evergreen forests, and each male chooses 
some open level spot — sometimes down in a dark gloomy 
ravine, entirely surrounded and shut in by dense cane brakes 
and rank vegetation — sometimes on the top of a hill where the 
jungle is comparatively open — from which he clears all the dead 
leaves and weeds, for a space of six or eight yards square ; 
until nothing but the bare clean earth remains, and thereafter 
he keeps this place scrupulously clean, removing carefully every 
dead leaf or twig that may happen to fall on it from the tre^s 
above. 



100 THE ARGUS PHEASANT. 

" These cleared spaces are undoubtedly used as dancing grounds, 
but personally I have never seen a bird dancing in them, but 
have always found the proprietor either seated quietly in, or 
moving backwards and forwards slowly about, them, calling at 
short intervals, except in the morning and evening when they 
roam about to feed and drink. The males are always to be 
found at home, and they roost at night on some tree quite 
close by. 

" They are the most difficult birds I know of to approach. A 
male is heard calling, and you gradually follow up the sound, tak- 
ing care not to make the slightest noise, till at last the bird calls 
within a few yards of you, and is only hidden by the denseness 
of the intervening foliage. You creep forward, hardly daring to 
breathe, and suddenly emerge on the open space, but the space is 
empty, the bird has either caught sight of or heard or smelt 
you, and has run off quietly. They will never rise, even when 
pursued by a dog, if they can possibly avoid it, but run very 
swiftly away, always choosing the densest and most impene- 
trable part of the forest to retreat through. When once the 
cleared space is discovered, it is merely a work of a little 
patience to secure the bird by trapping it. The easiest way is 
to run a low fence of cut scrub round the spot, leaving four 
openings just sufficiently wide to enable the bird to pass through, 
and in these openings to place nooses fastened to the end of a 
pliant sapling, which is bent and kept down by a catch. This 
is the usual way, and the one I adopted to secure most of my 
specimens, as I found it as difficult to shoot as it was easy to 
trap them. The natives, however, have other ways of secur- 
ing them, all dependent on taking advantage of the bird's 
idiosyncracy about keeping its home clean. 

" One of these plans, which, though I have never actually seen 
it in operation, is, I am informed, really practised, is as 
follows: — A bit of bamboo, about 18 or 20 inches long, and a 
quarter of an inch wide, is shaved down till it is the thickness 
of writing paper, the edges being as sharp as a razor. This 
narrow pliant piece ends in a stout sort of handle at one end, 
6 or 8 inches long, which is driven firmly into the ground in 
the middle of the cleared space. 

" The bird, in trying to remove it, scratches and pecks at it, 
trying to dig it up, but finding all its efforts vain, it twists the 
narrow pliant portion several times round its neck, and taking 
hold of the bamboo near the ground with its bill, it gives a 
sudden spring backwards to try to pull it up ; the consequence 
is that its head is nearly severed from its body by the razor-like 
edges of the bamboo. 

" Another method is to erect two small posts, about 4 feet 
high and 3 feet apart, in the clearing, across the top of which 
a bar is firmly fastened ; over this bar a string is run, by one 
end of which a heavy block of wood is suspended just under 






THE ARGUS PHEASANT. 101 

the bar, while the other end is fastened to a peg lightly driven 
into the ground immediately beneath the block. The bird com- 
mencing, as usual, to clear away these obstructions, soon 
manages to pull up the peg, and thus releases the heavy block 
of wood, which falls and crushes it. 

" The males are not at all quarrelsome, and apparently never 
interfere with each other, though they will answer each other's 
calls. The call of the male sounds like " how-how," repeated 
ten or a dozen times, and is uttered at short intervals when the 
bird is in its clearing, one commencing and others in the 
neighbourhood answering. The report of a gun will set every 
male within hearing calling, and on the least alarm or excite- 
ment, such as a troop of monkeys passing overhead, they call. 

" The call of the female is quite distinct, sounding like how- 
owoo, how-owoo, the last syllable much prolonged, repeated ten 
or a dozen times, but getting more and more rapid until it ends 
in a series of owoo's run together. Both the call of male and 
female can be heard to an immense distance, that of the former 
especially, which can be heard at the distance of a mile or more. 
Both sexes have also a note of alarm, a short, sharp, hoarse bark. 

" The female, like the male, lives quite solitarily, but she has 
no cleared space, and wanders about the forest apparently 
without any fixed residence. The birds never live in pairs, the 
female only visiting the male in his parlour for a short time. 

" The food consists chiefly of fallen fruit, which they swallow 
whole, especially one about the size and colour of a prune, which 
is very abundant in the forests of the south, but they also eat 
ants, slugs, and insects of various kinds. These birds all come 
down to the water to drink about 10 or n A.M., after they have 
fed and before they, or at any rate the males, return to their 
parlours. They were very common about Malewoon and 
Bankasoon, and Mr. Osborne, the superintendent of the mines, 
preserved 32 males during a comparatively short period." 



" I WAS unable," says Davison, " to find the nest, but, from what 
I could learn, the female builds a rude nest on the ground in 
some dense cane brake, laying seven or eight e^gs, white or 
creamy, minutely speckled with brown like a Turkey's, and 
hatching and rearing her brood without any assistance or inter- 
ference from the male. They are said to have no regular breed- 
ing season, the females laying at all times except during the 
depth of the rains. I secured two nestlings about a week old 
on the 28th of February. 



The following are the dimensions and colours of the soft 
parts recorded in the flesh : — 

Males. — Length 70*0 to 73*0 ; expanse, to end of longest 
primaries, 49-5 to 52*0 ; tail from vent, 49*5 to 52*0; wing to 



102 THE ARGUS PHEASANT. 

end of primaries, i8'0 to 19/0 ; to end of longest tertiaries, 
33*0 to 34*5 ; tarsus, 4-5 to 4/8 ; bill from gape, 1*32 to 2 # o. 
Weight, 4*5 to Shifts. 

Females. — Length, 27-25 to 30*25 ; expanse, 35*0 to 40*0; 
tail from vent, 12*5 to 13*0; wing, 11*5 to 13*0; tarsus, 3-62 
to 375 ; bill from gape, ro to 175. Weight, 3*25 to 
375ft>s. 

The male has the legs and feet bright red, sometimes even a 
vermilion red. The female has them a paler and duller red, 
sometimes a litharge red ; the bill and claws are white, slightly- 
tinged blue ; the cere, in the male, the same colour as the bill ; in 
the female pale brown ; irides wood to dark brown ; the facial 
skin dull pale indigo, to dark plumbeous blue. 

A nestling male measured : — 

Length, 6*25 ; expanse, n*o ; tail from vent, 07 ; wing, 3*3 ; 
tarsus, 175 ; bill from gape, 075. Weight, 2*5 ozs. 

The bill was pale horny ; irides pale brown ; eyelids grey 
brown. 



The Plate, though carefully drawn, seems to have been 
taken from a faded specimen, and conveys no adequate idea 
of the marvellous depth and richness of the tints of the 
male's plumage. The bill is wrongly coloured, as are the claws, 
and the tint of the facial skin is too pale altogether. The 
plate is wrongly lettered. 

As for the nondescript on the right, supposed to be a female, 
it reminds one of an amateur's daguerreotype portrait in the 
early days of photography, and as the hen could never be iden- 
tified by it, I will give a description of her : — 

The female wants the crest and the elongated tail feathers 
of the male, and has the whole top and back of the head, in- 
cluding the somewhat elongated bristly feathers of the lower 
part of the occiput and nape, and the back of the neck, speckled 
and narrowly barred greyish, or sometimes fulvous white and 
blackish dusky ; the chin and throat and sides of the head 
and front of the neck, as in the male, bare or nearly so, with 
sparse white hair-like feathers ; the base of the neck all round 
deep ferruginous, altogether unmarked, or a little freckled and 
marked with zig-zag black lines ; breast and upper abdomen 
ferruginous, more or less orange, and becoming yellower on the 
abdomen, everywhere extremely closely vermicellated with 
zig-zaggy black lines ; lower abdomen, tibial plumes, and flanks, 
a dusky greyish brown very finely, and on the lower abdomen 
and vent obsoletely, vermicellated with pale reddish brown ; 
lower tail-coverts dark brown, finely speckled and vermicellated 
with pale rusty ; winglet and primaries deep chestnut, irregular- 
ly variegated with black lines and spots ; upper back like the 
breast, but the black markings rather more preponderant ; 
secondaries, tertiaries, and wing-coverts black, comparatively 



THE ARGUS PHEASANT. 103 

coarsely banded or variegated with bright buff bands, pretty 
uniform in breadth, but varying altogether in length and 
shape, sometimes reduced to mere spots, sometimes assuming 
most complicated hieroglyphic forms ; the whole of the middle 
and lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts black, banded with 
irregular freckly speckly spotted bars, varying in different 
specimens from deep ferruginous buff to almost buffy white ; 
the markings at the upper edge of each of these bands being 
coarse and sparse, and growing fine and speckly towards the 
lower edge ; tail and longest upper tail-coverts irregularly, but 
closely, marked with ferruginous buff or dull ferruginous. 

It may be useful to describe the nestlings, which we have not 
been able to introduce into the plate. 

The general colour is a brownish chestnut ; the crown, nape, 
and interscapulary region obsoletely freckled with deep brown ; 
the back and rump are black, with a broad conspicuous pale 
yellow stripe on either side of the back bone ; the wings are 
brown ; the larger coverts each with a rufous spot or imperfect 
subterminal bar ; the quills tipped with the same dull rufous, 
and mottled with it on their outer webs ; the chin and upper 
part of the throat are reddish albescent ; the breast and front 
and sides of the neck are brownish chestnut, slightly paler on 
the interscapulary region, The rest of the lower parts browner 
and paler. 

One other species of the genus, Argus gray >i, is known from 
Borneo, and there are two other supposed species, A. ocellatus 
and A. bipunctatus, described from a few feathers, of which 
nothing absolutely is, I believe, yet known. 



^m?sf& 




POLYPLECTRON TiBETA.NUM 



YDS III KttMKHPHUttnv< 



Polyplectrum thibetanum, Gmelin. 



Vernacular ITaBieS. — [Doungkulla, Arakan and Pegu ; Shuay dong, Tennas- 
serim ; Munnowur, Deyodahuk, Assam ; Deo-durug, Deo-dirrik, Garo Hills ; 
Paisa- walla Majur, (Coolee jargon) Tea gardens, Cachar.] 




T is in the dense hill forests of the Indo-Burmese 
region that the Grey Peacock-Pheasant has its 
home. 

Its furthest limits northwards and westwards, so 
far as I yet know, are the Baxa Duars and the 
outer slopes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. East- 
wards it is far from rare, in suitable localities in 
the Eastern Duars, the northern portions of Goalpara, Kamrup, 
and Darrang, and possibly, but I have no certain information on 
the subject, further east. South of the Brahmaputra it occurs in 
the Garo, Khasia, and Naga Hills, in Sylhet, Cachar, Hill Tip- 
perah, Chittagong, Arakan, Pegu and Tenasserim, as far south 
as Tavoy, and perhaps some distance further, but not, accord- 
ing to our present information, so far down as Mergui town. 
Outside our limits, we know that it occurs in Independent Bur- 
ma and Western Siam, but its eastern limit, like that of the 
Burmese Pea- Fowl, has yet to be defined. 



This SPECIES occurs at very varying elevations ; I have received 
it from places in Cachar and Sylhet, and from the base of Nwa- 
lebo in Tenasserim, from localities little above sea level, and 
again Davison obtained it almost at the summit of Mooleyit, at 
quite 6,000 feet elevation. 

But though it occurs right down on the plains, it is so far a 
Hill Pheasant, that it chiefly affects hills and their immediate 
neighbourhood, and is never found in any considerable numbers 
at any great distance from these. 

In Tenasserim we have usually found it singly or in little par- 
ties, very shy and keeping to the densest portions of the forest. 
Without dogs it is almost impossible to flush it, as it much 
prefers running to flying. It is easy, however, to find if any are 
in the jungle you are searching, as, on a gun being fired, every 
male that is within hearing at once begins to call. Their note 
is along-drawn, harsh, somewhat bark-like, qua-qiia-qiia, often 
repeated. 

H 



106 THE GREY PEACOCK-PHEASANT. 

So far as we know, it never, in Tenasserim, wanders out of the 
forests into the fields or other opener spaces to feed, as so many 
other Pheasants and Jungle Fowls do. 

Our Tenasserim specimens proved to have fed upon ants 
and other insects, and on hard seeds. 

As far as I can judge, the Tenasserim, Cachar, and Baxa 
Duar birds all belong to the same species, but it is necessary to 
note that Mr. Gray considered that there were three recogniz- 
able forms, distinguishable primarily by the shape, size, and 
colour of the ocelli or eye spots on the tail, back, and wings, 
I can at present discover no differences of this kind in my 
rather large series, that are not manifestly individual variations, 
but it is not impossible that the Assamese, Upper Burmese, and 
Siamese specimens may prove to differ somewhat. 

I know so little of this bird that I have asked friends who 
know more for some little information in regard to it, and writ- 
ing from North-east Cachar, Mr. Inglis remarks : — 

" Although anything but rare here, this bird is but seldom 
seen, owing to its shy and retiring habits. It affects thick 
jungle with an open bottom, and it is especially fond of hilly 
lands where bamboos and young trees predominate. 

" About the beginning of the year, the male begins to call 
in the early morning and late in the afternoon ; perched on 
the bough of a tree, or on the top of a stump, about eight or ten 
feet from the ground, he emits his loud call-note about every 
half minute. This call is often kept up for an hour or two at 
a time, and can be heard on a quiet morning a very long way 
off. Then is the time to stalk him, but it requires a large 
amount of patience and perseverance to do it successfully, as 
you have only the sound to guide you, and after approaching 
within about one hundred yards of your game, it is unsafe to 
proceed except during the calls ; thus you can only advance 
a few yards per minute. 

" The call is very deceiving. I have often imagined that I 
was within shot of the bird, when it was really still a long 
way off. 

" When you get up to the bird, and are sharp sighted enough 
to see him before he sees you, the only plan is to take a regu- 
lar pot shot. Your chances are few indeed if you wait hoping 
to take him on the wing, as he has a detestable habit of drop- 
ping to the ground like a stone, and relying for escape on his 
heels. 

" I have never shot more than two in a morning, and even 
then I thought myself in luck. To obtain a shot at all, entails 
rather hard work, and from the slow manner in which you ad- 
vance you generally become only too well acquainted with all the 
leeches and mosquitos in the neighbourhood. 

" I have sometimes shot this Pheasant, as well as the Black- 
breasted Kalij, Red-legged Wood Partridge, and Common Jungle 



THE GREY PEACOCK-PHEASANT. 107 

Fowl, by hunting the forest with a couple of dogs (mongrels). 
When any one of these birds is started, the dogs invariably give 
chase, and soon ' tree' the fugitive. The dogs generally continue 
giving tongue, until one reaches the tree. This must seem a 
very unsportsman-like way of shooting Pheasants, but any one 
acquainted with Cachar jungles will allow that it is about the 
only way to get a shot at any game birds, excepting Duck, 
Snipe, and Quail. 

" The Kookies snare numbers of the Poly plectrum on their 

* jhoomsy or cultivation clearings, inside the forests. The snare 
consists generally of a sapling, or branch of a tree, bent towards 
the ground ; one end of a piece of string is fastened to the sap- 
ling, and on the other end is a noose ; the noose is spread round 
a small hole in the earth ; the trap itself is a simple contrivance 
of a few split pieces of bamboo ; the bait is a small red berry of 
which the bird is very fond ; the berry is firmly attached to the 
trap, and the bird pecking at the berry releases the catch, the 
sapling flies up, and the bird is noosed by the neck or feet, or 
sometimes both. If the bird is to be taken alive, a very supple 
sapling is chosen, so that the bird is not suspended, but if the 
bird is to be eaten at once, a stiff sapling is selected, so that it 
is lifted right off its legs and hung up high enough to be well 
out of the reach of cats, jackals, and other vermin. 

" Females are not so often snared as males. The hill people 
call them ' Mohr,' or Peacock, and do not seem to know when 
they breed or where. I have offered rewards for a nest, but 
without success. I have not seen a bird between June and 
November ; perhaps they retire into quieter jungles when 
breeding." 

Mr. R. A. Clark, who was in the Mynadhar garden below 
Tipai Mukh in Cachar, and has shot numbers of this species, 
gives me the following information : — 

" The Peacock-Pheasant is very common in North- 
Eastern Cachar, where it is found in dense bamboo 
jungle, on the sides of ravines, and on the tops of the 
low ranges of hills wherever there are Jdmun trees, as 
well as on the banks of the river ' Barak/ wherever it is well 
wooded. On the rocky faces of the ' Barak' banks there is a 
tree, which, during the rainy season, is partially submerged, but 
in the cold weather bears a fruit with seeds like those of a 

* chilli.' On these the birds feed greedily in the early morning 
and towards sunset ; insects and worms, with this fruit, form their 
chief food, but I have on one occasion found small land shells 
and pebbles in the stomach of an adult male. 

" These birds may be heard in the early morning and at sunset 
calling, and then the male is generally to be found perched on 
some branch, only a few feet off the ground. The call is ha-ha- 
ha-ha, something like a laugh, and can be heard from a good 
distance ; the female's note I have never heard. 



108 THE GREY PEACOCK-PHEASANT. 

" From November to April these birds are found all over the 
well-wooded parts of the district ; and during the rainy season 
they retire to the dense forests and bamboo jungle to breed, and 
at this season the call is never heard. 

" I have shot dozens of this bird, some of which had two 
and three spurs, but in no case did I ever see more than four 
on one leg-, and one peculiarity is. that they hardly ever have the 
same number of spurs on each leg. The Kookies have an idea 
that an additional spur grows every year, but during the five 
years' experience I had of them, I never saw more than the 
number mentioned above. The females have a corn on each 
leg where the spur is in the male. 

" These birds go about in pairs generally, but on one occa- 
sion, in December, while riding through a forest pathway, I 
came across a party of four, one male and three females, the 
latter easily distinguishable by their smaller size and duller 
colours. 

" As a rule, these Pheasants are very shy and terrible runners 
and skulks, and without a good dog it is impossible to secure a 
winged bird. They are delicious eating. The Kookies and Dan- 
ghar coolies in the Cachar tea gardens know this bird by the 
name of " Paisa-walla-majur." The Kookies are very in- 
genious in their methods of trapping birds ; the common spring- 
trap, so well known at home, is universally used, and for securing 
birds on their nests, where these are on the ground, the grass 
conical basket, mentioned further on, is adopted, the green 
ulu grass being used. The spring-traps are baited with a crim- 
son seed, which is obtained from a forest tree." 

Darling reports that he " saw a great number of this Pheasant 
in the Thowngyah Hills (Tenasserim)," and not unfrequently 
in company with the Lineated Pheasant. 

" I generally noticed them," he says, " in parties of two, three, 
or four, but once coming round a sharp corner, I stumbled 
upon eight of them, employed in scratching up a lot of fresh 
elephant's dung. 

" I only managed to procure a pair. The male I shot. Prow- 
ling about the jungle in the morning for birds, I saw a dark object 
scuttling through the bushes, and fired and picked up, to my great 
delight, a fine male. The hen, I snared, and in rather a strange 
way. I found three holes of the porcupine rat (of which I got 
two specimens) communicating with one another ; the entrance 
to one of these holes was nearly 3 feet in diameter and some 4 
feet in depth, decreasing, as the hole deepened horizontally into 
the hill side, to about 8 inches. I set a slip noose with a springer 
in the small part of the hole. On looking next morning, 
instead of, as I expected, finding the rat, there were only a 
number of the feathers of a male of this species. I set the trap 
again, and that evening got nothing ; next morning I found a 
hen hanging by her legs in the trap. 



THE GREY PEACOCK-PHEASANT. IOQ 

" They feed in the thick clumps, on seeds, insects and shells, 
go about in a perfectly noiseless manner, and are very hard to 
flush, disappearing like magic if disturbed. At the report of a 
gun they cry out qua, but this is the only call I have heard them 
utter." 

Col. Williamson says : " This species, though not often seen, 
and only to be shot with the aid of dogs, who speedily ' tree' it, 
is found all over the Garo Hills, where it is a permanent resident. 
I have shot it on the Tura Range of Hills, which attain an 
elevation of 4,600 feet." 



I HAVE as yet entirely failed to obtain the eggs of this species, 
but to judge from experience obtained in captivity, the females 
produce two or three broods in a year, and lay only two eggs 
to a sitting. In a wild state they probably lay more eggs, and 
only once a year. The eggs laid in captivity are described as 
" peculiarly delicate in form and colour, assimilating very closely 
to those of the Golden Pheasant, of a creamy or buffy white, and 
measuring 2 inches in length by 1*44 in breadth." 

Mr. Clarke, whom I have already quoted, says : — 

" I once had the good fortune to find a nest containing hard- 
set eggs of this species in the month of May, the exact date 
I forget. I took these and set them under a domestic hen, and in a 
week's time one egg hatched, the others went bad. 

i( The nest was placed at the foot of a large bush, which stood 
amongst 'sone' grass and small cane jungle, on undulating ground. 
The female flew off the nest on our approach, when the Kookie 
shikari who was with me, said he would catch the bird. He 
made a cone-shaped basket of grass, put it over the nest and retired 
with me to a short distance. After about 1 5 minutes we approach- 
ed stealthily and threw a cloth over the basket, securing the bird 
which had returned to the nest while we were away, and lift- 
ing the edge of the cone had crept inside. 

" The eggs were of a cafe an lait colour ; the nest was circular, 
about 9 inches in diameter and 3 inches in depth, made of twigs 
and leaves roughly put together, with an apology of a lining of 
the bird's own feathers, and possessed sufficient cohesion to per- 
mit of its removal, eggs and all, to my bungalow. The young 
one that was hatched was covered with greyish down and looked 
very much like a fowl chicken. Notwithstanding all my care, it 
died in a week's time." 

We are told that when the young of this species were first 
hatched in the Zoological Gardens, a Bantam hen was employed 
as a foster mother, and that the chicks would follow close be- 
hind her, never coming in front to take food, so that, in scratch- 
ing the ground, she frequently struck them with her feet. The 
reason for the young keeping in her rear was not understood 
until, on a subsequent occasion, two chicks were reared by a 



110 THE GREY PEACOCK-PHEASANT. 

hen P. tibetanum, when it was observed that they always kept 
in the same manner close behind the mother, who held her 
tail widely spread, thus completely covering them ; and there 
they continually remained out of sight, only running forward 
when called by the hen to pick up some food she had found, 
and then immediately retreating to their shelter. 



The FOLLOWING are the dimensions and colours of the soft parts 
recorded in the flesh from two fine adult males and females : — 

Males. — Length, 24 # 5 to 26"0 ; expanse, 25*25 to 27*0; tail 
from vent, 12*6 to 14*2 ; wing, 8'2 to 8'6 ; tarsus, 2*9 to 3*0 ; bill 
from gape, 1*3 to 1*4. Weight, 1*5 to i*75lbs. 

Females. — Length, 19*0; expanse, 22-5 to 23*6; tail, 8*3; 
wing, 7*i to ?'6; tarsus, 2*5 to 275; bill from gape, 1-25. 
Weight, 140ZS. to 1 lb. 

In one male the legs and feet were blackish ; the claws black ; 
upper mandible and tip of lower mandible black ; rest of lower 
mandible and facial skin pale fleshy yellow ; irides white. The 
females had the legs and feet very dark plumbeous ; upper mandi- 
ble dark horny brown, paler on cere ; lower mandible pale 
brown ; irides deep grey ; facial skin pale dingy fleshy yellow. 



The Plate gives a fair idea of the male, but it seems neces- 
sary to give a description of the other sex, the diminutive 
portrait of which might stand for any thing, and is more like 
the Malayan Peacock-Pheasant than the present species. 

The female is a much smaller bird than the male, and has less of 
a brush crest ; the chin and throat greyish white ; the whole of 
the rest of the head and neck all round rather dark brown, very 
finely and obsoletely barred with a lighter and more fulvous shade 
of brown, and decidedly shaded greyer on the forehead and crown; 
many or most of the feathers of the lower half of the neck, 
especially in the front and at the sides, with minute white shaft 
specks or spots ; the primaries and their greater coverts plain 
glossy rather pale brown, of a peculiar tinge, approaching some- 
what to liver brown ; the whole of the rest of the visible por- 
tions of the closed wings and scapulars, and interscapulary re- 
gion, hair brown ; the feathers with somewhat widely separated 
irregular narrow speckly transverse bars of pale buff, in places 
ferruginous buff; the feathers are margined at the tips with a 
similar band of somewhat coalescing speckles and spots which 
are white, or nearly so, in most specimens ; inside this the tip of 
the feather is black or blackish, with, in many cases, a faint dull 
purplish gloss in parts. This again is bounded above by an 
imperfect transverse speckly bar, which, like that of the tip, is 
white or nearly so. The rest of the back, rump, and upper tail- 
coverts brown, excessively minutely pencilled and stippled with 
bufTy brown ; most of the feathers more or less white shafted 



THE GREY PEACOCK-PHEASANT, III 

and with a tiny white spot on the shaft just at the tip ; the 
longer upper tail-coverts and tail are the same hair brown, with 
numerous widely separated, irregular imperfect transverse 
bands of spots and specks, whiter on the tips of the longer tail- 
coverts, buffy elsewhere ; each of the tail-feathers has near the 
tip a small imperfect dusky metallic green ocellum, surround- 
ed by an ill-defined blackish band and very inconspicuous. In 
some specimens the ocelli are more, in others less, developed, but 
they are always very inconspicuous as compared with those of the 
male. Sometimes there are, I believe, traces of ocelli on the 
upper tail-coverts, but there are none in the specimens now before 
me ; the breast and greater part of the abdomen hair brown, 
minutely speckled, chiefly towards the margins of the feathers, 
with buffy dots and zig-zags ; vent, tibial plumes, and lower tail- 
coverts plain brown ; the latter, however, a little speckled with 
white towards their tips. The female of course has no spurs. 

During the Lushai Expedition, the tail-feathers of a male 
Polyplectrum were picked up in a village, which I at once saw 
could not have belonged to either the Grey or Malay Peacock- 
Pheasants. In the former species the freckling spots are greyish 
white on a greyish brown ground ; in the latter they are hair 
brown on a buff ground, and much larger than in the former. 

In the tail feathers, above alluded to, the spots are about the 
same size as in the Grey Peacock-Pheasant, but are less closely 
set and are pale buff on a hair brown ground. The ocelli of 
the central-feathers are more elongated ovals than in tibetanum 
and emerald green. 

I have since satisfied myself that these feathers must have 
belonged to another species hitherto known only from Cochin 
China, but probably extending into Siam, Germain's Peacock- 
Pheasant (P. germaini, Elliot.) 

This bird may extend into the Lushai country, or the fea- 
thers may have been brought there ; there is no saying ; I have 
been able to learn nothing further since this one set of tail- 
feathers was obtained, but still I think it advisable to give a 
very brief description of it. 

It is most like P. tibetanum, but it has no white throat, and 
the bare orbital skin is bright crimson and not pale fleshy pink 
or fleshy yellow as in tibetanum. 

" It is readily distinguished," says Elliot, " from all the 
members of this genus, and may be described as follows : — Ge- 
neral colour blackish brown, irregularly spotted with light 
brown ; head and back part of the neck black, each feather 
barred with white ; back, wings, and tail-coverts with metallic 
spots, in some lights of a dark lustrous green, in others of a rich 
purple ; primaries dark brown ; upper mandible black ; lower 
horn-colour ; feet black." 



I 




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Ill iiiaill NMMR 



Polyplectrum bicalcaratum, Linne. 



VemaCUlar Names-— [Quou-chermin, (Malay.)] 




LTHOUGH we have figured this species, it having 
been on more than one occasion sent from Mergui, 
I entertain grave doubts whether it really occurs with- 
in our limits. The bird, however, may yet prove to 
occur in the higher hills of Southern Tenasserim, 
inland from the now ruined city of that name, which 
have been variously estimated to rise to elevations of 
from five to eight thousand feet, but these hills roadless, unin- 
habited, and almost impenetrable, remain as yet unexplored. 

From almost the southern boundary of Tenasserim to the 
extreme south of the Malay Peninsula, it certainly occurs, and 
it has been recorded in a doubtful fashion by Raffles from Su- 
matra, but I think its occurrence there needs confirmation. 



Absolutely nothing is known of its habits or nidification, 
nor have we any measurements recorded in the flesh. 



A MALE measures in the skin about 20*5 inches in length ; 
wing to the end of the longest primary, 8 inches ; elongated 
tertiaries projecting about O' 5 further; tail about iro; tarsus, 
2*9, with two conspicuous spurs on the back thereof, each nearly 
0-5 long ; mid-toe and claw, r8 ; bill, straight from frontal bone 
to tip, 1*1. 

A female similarly measures — 

Length, i8'0 ; wing, yo ; the tertiaries in this sex falling short 
of the longest primaries ; tail, 9*0 ; tarsus, which has no spurs, 
2'4 ; mid-toe and claw, 16 ; bill at front, ro. 

The legs and feet are said to be dusky ; the upper mandible 
blackish ; the lower horny ; the orbital space red. 

Some males have only one, and some three instead of two 
spurs, on one or both legs. 

15 



114 THE MALAYAN PEACOCK-PHEASANT, 

The Plate gives a good idea of the bird, I cannot say whether 
the soft parts are correctly coloured. 



Besides the three species already mentioned, two others, 
usually assigned to this genus, P. emphamim, of Borneo, and the 
very aberrant P. chalcurum, of Sumatra, are known, 



^s^ssw 



(Slip to face page 1 14. ) 



The Polypleclrum referred to as from Borneo, should stand as 
P. napoleonis. Its supposed habitat of Borneo has not been 
verified, but it has recently been found in Palawan Island of the 
Philippines. Palawan is a long island, running down towards 
the northernmost point of Borneo, from which it is only- 
separated by the Straits of Balabac, which are again bridged 
over with smaller islands, so that there is nowhere, probably, a 
clear break of more than 30 miles, if as much. It seems very 
possible, therefore, that this species may, as was originally stated, 
extend to Borneo. 







Waller. Chromo-Litt-lS.Eatton Gardenlondon. 



CROSSOPTILON TIBETANUM 



IIIIIIIFI ttRtlHNEAMMr, 

Crossoptilum tibetanum, Hodgson. 




Vernacular ITamos.— [Bhote Dafe, Nepal. ] 



HIS is another species which could hardly claim to be 
included in the Game Birds of India. Hodgson ob- 
tained the unique specimen of this striking bird 
(which now graces the national collection) in Nepal 
it is true, but it had been brought in by an envoy 
who had been to Pekin ; he does not appear to have 
been questioned as to where he met with the species, 
and it is impossible to say now where he did get it* 

I however wished to reproduce exactly (as I have done) 
Mr. Hodgson's original drawing, taken from the fresh bird (so 
unlike the lovely fancy plate in Grey's Genera), and his full origi- 
nal description, now only to be met with in an old volume of 
the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, long since out 
of print. 

It has been surmised that this species is identical with that 
discovered by David, at Moupin, and named Crossoptilum 
dt'ouyni by Verreaux, but all the specimens of this latter as yet 
obtained consistently differ in some important particulars from 
Hodgson's type. 



IT MAY be well to note that in all these Eared-Pheasants, and 
there are at least two other known species (C. mantchuricum and 
auritiun), the females only differ from the males in wanting 
spurs. 

Mr. Hodgson's description is as follows : — 

" The length, from the tip of the bill to the tip of the tail, 
is from 38 to 40 inches, of which the bill is r62, and the tail 
19 to 20 inches. 

* But note what Colonel Tickell remarked in the Field, March 3, 1866, p. 170 : — 
" Next in order to the Moonal should come the Crossoptilon, or Snow Pheasant, of 
which two species have been discovered, C. auritum and C. tibetanum. They are 
fine stately birds, with a pure white plumage, and large satin green tails ; but my 
knowledge of them is limited to the inspection of a stuffed skin of C. tibetanum, in 
the possession of some Bhutias who were passing through Nepal on their way to the 
plains in 1840." If this is to be relied on, the birds may come from nearer Nepal 
than has generally been surmised. 



Il6 HODGSON'S EARED-PHEASANT. 

"A closed wing measures 12*5 inches ; the tarsus, 4*12 ; and 
the central-toe, 2*62. The bill has the same length, whether 
taken from the gape or from the front, and is three-eighths of an 
inch shorter than the head, the latter being two inches com- 
plete. The bill is very strong, with the general characters of that 
of Lophophoriis, the tomial edge of the upper mandible being' 
even more scarped, and furnished with a small tooth-like 
festoon ; its base is nude. The head and throat are clad in 
feathers, and simple, but the entire cheeks, from nostril to 
occiput, are void of plumes, being occupied by the typical red 
and papillated skin of the Pheasant tribe, and in all that extent 
of development, which more especially characterises the Indian 
Kaliches \leucomelanus\ and the painted and Amherstian species 
of China. Like the true Pheasant (colchicus), our bird has no 
crest of any kind, though the feathers occupying the top of the 
head are of a peculiar kind, being short, velvety, thick set, 
erect, with their slightly discomposed and square points re- 
curved a little to the front. 

" The wings have no peculiarity ; they are short, stiff, bowed, 
and rounded as usual, the sixth feather being the longest. The 
very ample tail is most remarkable for the breadth of the 
plumes. Its length is moderate, nor is there any of the extra 
elongation and narrowing of the central feathers which charac- 
terise the typical Pheasants. There are 18 caudal plumes, re- 
gularly and considerably graduated throughout, and the general 
form of the tail is broadly convex, without any symptom of the 
Galline compression and curve. The legs and feet are well 
adapted for rapid movement on the ground, and have a form 
and proportion veiy similar to those of leucomelanus and 
satyra. The tarsi are nude, and biscaled before and behind, but 
the hinder scales are smaller than the fore ones. The sides of 
the tarsi are papillo-reticulate. The spur is sharp and curved. 
The lateral toes are equal, the central long, and the hind short 
and raised, as usual. The nails are long, and possess but little 
curve. 

" It remains only to notice the plumage of the bird, which 
constitutes, indeed, its most remarkable feature. The plumage, 
then, upon the whole body is very ample, (but not at all pointed,) 
unglossed, and wholly dishevelled, so as to remind one of the 
Struthious family. 

" It is distinguished amongst all its congeners by its ample 
fringe-like plumage, the dishevelled quality of which is com- 
municated even to the central tail-feathers, the very broad and 
equal webs of which are quite separated, and curve outwards, 
the sides, besides, being adorned by a fine gloss. 

" The general colour of our bird is bluish-hoary, paler and 
tinted yellow on the lower surface ; crown of the head, black and 
velvety ; great alar and caudal plumes dusky or black, more or 
less glossed with changeable blue, especially the tail-feathers ; 



HODGSON'S EARED-PHEASANT. 1 17 

legs and cheek-pieces intense sanguine ; bill dull ochreous red ; 
iris brown." 

Mr. Hodgson's original notes, recorded with his own hand on 
the reverse of the plate that we have copied, differ in some 
particulars, and I reproduce them below. 

Neither in figure, nor description, nor notes, is any indication 
of, or allusion to, the ear-tufts, so conspicuous in the other species 
of this genus, to be detected, and considering that Mr. Hodgson 
received the bird apparently in the flesh, this is remarkable if this 
species really possesses these tufts. If it does not, all idea of 
its identity with any other known species may be at once dis- 
missed. 

These are Mr. Hodgson's notes. I have italicised figures 
and remarks which differ from, or are supplementary to, those 
of the printed description : — 

"Length, 38 ; bill to gape, 775 ; tail, 19/5 ; wing, 12*5 ; tarsi to 
sole, j8j ; centre-toe and nail, J'ji ; hind do., 125. 

" Bill to gape equal to head, strong, broadly convexed, but 
inclining to pent form, in the huge overlaying upper mandible 
whose tomial edge has an accipitrine festoon, a little dentate 
even ; cere, nude, medial ; nares, basal, lateral, shaded above 
by scale ; eye piece large, as in Euplocamus ; wings, medial 
rounded, bowed ; 6th quill longest, 1st, 2' 12 inch less, rest gradua- 
ted in diminishing series ; tail ample, broad convex, inclined to 
arcuate form ; 20 plumes, which are equally graduated through- 
out, and have broad open webs and obtuse round ends, the upper- 
most, or mid plumes hiding all the rest ; graduation to 8'$ inches 
in extremes ; legs and feet like Euplocamus ; tarsi nude, high, 
biscaled afore, also behind, but smaller, reticulate to sides; 
acutely spurred ; toes medial ; acropodia scaled; laterals equal ; 
nails, obtuse!' 



The Plate is a very exact and faithful copy of the original 
done by Miss Herbert. 








v % 




i i 



^ 



Megapodius nicobariensis, Blyth. 



Vernacular Names-— [Grouse, Peafowl, Pheasants ! (British barbarians) 
Camorta.] 




HE Nicobar Megapode is only certainly known to 
occur in the central and southern divisions of the group 
of islands whence they derive their name. 

We saw and shot them on every single island except 
the three northernmost — Chowra, Batty Malve, and 
Car Nicobar. 

In no portion of the Andaman group have they yet 
been traced, but at Table Island, at the north of the Great 
Coco, there was some reason to think that they must have 
occurred, though we could find none of them. In the first place 
the lighthouse-keeper, a most intelligent European, described to 
us brown hen-like birds with large legs and feet that he had 
occasionally shot on the island. In the second place, we found 
some little hillocks that might have been old mounds of this 
species. 

It is not unlikely that this species extends to the various 
small islets of the north-west end of Sumatra, but this remains to 
be proved. 

The Megapode never wanders far from the sea-shore, and 
throughout the day it keeps in thickish jungle, a hundred yards or 
so above high water mark. It never, so far as I observed, emerg- 
ed on to the open grass hills that form so conspicuous a feature 
in so many of the Nicobars, but throughout the day hugged the 
belt of more or less dense jungle that in most places, along the 
whole coast line, supervenes abruptly on the white coral beach. 
At dusk, during moonlight nights, and in the early dawn, 
glimpses may be caught of them running about on the shore or 
even at the very waters' edge, but during daylight they skulk in 
the jungle. 

They are to be met with in pairs, coveys, and flocks of from 
thirty to fifty. They run with great rapidity and rise unwillingly, 
running and flying just like jungle hens. They often call to 
each other, and when a party has been surprised and dispersed, 
they keep on talking to each other incessantly, half a dozen 
cackling at the same time. The note is not unlike the chuck- 



120 THE NICOBAR MEGAPODE. 

ling of a hen that has recently laid an egg, and is anxious to 
publish the stupendous fact in nature's pages ; it may be sylla- 
bled in a variety of ways, but several of us agreed that on the 
whole kuk-a-kuk-kuk ! most nearly represented their chuckling 
cackling call. 

The stomachs of all we examined contained tiny land shells 
(sometimes with the animals not yet dead), larvae of insects, 
dissolved matter, apparently vegetable, and minute fragments and 
particles of quartz or other hard rocks. 

When by any fortunate chance you can get them up, they are 
very easy to shoot. They are most abundant where the soil is light 
and sandy, and the ground cover at the bases of the magnifi- 
cent trees that overshadow one from above, is therefore com- 
paratively penetrable, and in such localities, with a few good 
dogs, they would afford very pretty shooting. 

As game they are unsurpassed. The flesh, very white, very 
sweet and juicy, loaded with fat, is delicious, a sort of juste 
milieu between that of a fat Norfolk Turkey and a fat Norfolk 
Pheasant. 

The eggs, too, are quite equal, if not superior, to those of the 
Pea-Fowl, and to my mind higher commendation cannot be given. 



BUT IT is in regard to their nidification that these birds 
possess the highest interest. Moderate-sized birds as they are, 
they gradually manage to accumulate tumuli, that would not 
have done discredit to the final resting-place of some ancient 
British hero, and in these they bury their eggs and leave them 
to be hatched by the heat evolved, as I believe, by fermenta- 
tion, in the interior of these mounds. 

These mounds are never, as our artist has by mistake repre- 
sented one, on the bare sea-shore ; they are always at least just 
completely inside the belt of jungle that fringes the high water 
mark, and they are never so high in proportion to their breadth 
as he has depicted. 

Both Davison and myself took great pains to learn all we 
could about the nidification of these, in this respect, queer birds, 
and I will quote notes of ours that we recorded at the time. 

He says : " I have seen a great many mounds of this bird. 
Usually they are placed close to the shore, but on Bompoka and 
on Katchall I saw two mounds some distance inland in the 
forest. They were composed of dried leaves, sticks, &c, mixed 
with earth, and were very small, compared with others near the 
sea-coast, not being above three feet high and about twelve or 
fourteen feet in circumference ; those built near the coast are 
composed chiefly of sand mixed with rubbish, and vary very 
much in size, but average about five feet high and thirty feet in 
circumference; but I met with one exceptionally large one on 
the Island of Trinkut, which must have been at least eight feet 
high and quite sixty feet in circumference. It was apparently 



THE NICOBAR MEGAPODE. 121 

a very old one, for from near its centre grew a tree about six 
inches in diameter, whose roots penetrated the mound in all 
directions to within a foot of its summit, some of them being 
nearly as thick as a man's wrist. I had this mound dug away 
almost to the level of the surrounding land, but only got three 
eggs from it, one quite fresh, and two in which the chicks were 
somewhat developed. 

" Off this mound I shot a Megapode, which had evidently 
only just laid an egg. I dissected it, and from a careful exami- 
nation it would seem that the eggs are laid at long intervals 
apart, for the largest egg in the ovary was only about the size 
of a large pea, and the next in size about as big as a small pea. 
These mounds are also used by reptiles, for out of one I dug, 
besides the Megapode's eggs, about a dozen eggs of some large 
lizard. 

" I made careful enquiries among the natives about these 
birds, and from them I learnt that they usually get four or five 
eggs from a mound, but sometimes they get as many as ten ; 
they all assert that only one pair of birds are concerned in the 
making of a mound, and that they only work at night. When 
newly made, the mounds (so I was informed) are small, but are 
gradually enlarged by the birds. The natives never dig a mound 
away, but they probe it with a stick or with the end of their 
daos, and when they find a spot where the stick sinks in easily, 
they scoop out the sand with their hands, generally, though not 
always, filling in the holes again after they have abstracted the 
eggs. The Nicobarese and the Malay and Burmese traders 
take numbers of these eggs, which they generally cook by 
placing them in hot ashes ; but they also sometimes boil them 
quite hard, and they do not seem to be very particular whether 
the eg£ is fresh or contains a chicken in a more or less advan- 

OCT 

ced stage of development. The Nicobarese, at any rate, appear 
to relish a boiled or roasted chicken out of the egg quite as 
much as they do a fresh egg. 

"The eggs are usually buried from 3 \ to 4 feet deep, and how 
the young manage to extricate themselves from the superincum- 
bent mass of soil and rubbish, seems a mystery. I could not obtain 
any information from natives on this point, but most probably 
they are assisted by their parents, if not entirely freed by them, 
for these latter, so the natives affirm, are always to be found in 
the vicinity of the mounds where their eggs are deposited. 

" The surface soil of the mounds only is dry ; at about a foot 
from the surface, the sand feels slightly damp and cold, but as 
the depth increases the sand gets damper but at the same time 
increases in warmth." 

I, myself, saw a considerable number of these mounds, chiefly 
at Galatea Bay, and there I examined some of them very 
minutely. These were situated just inside the dense jungle 
which commences at springtide high-water mark. It appeared 

16 



122 THE NICOBAR MEGAPODE. 

to me that the birds first collected a heap of leaves, cocoanuts, 
and other vegetable matter, and then scraped together sand 
which they threw over the heap, so as not only to fill up all 
interstices, but to cover everything over with about a foot of 
pure sand, — I say sand, but this term is calculated to mislead, 
because it does not contain much silex, but consists mainly of 
finely triturated coral and shells. After a certain period, whe- 
ther yearly or not I cannot of course say, the birds scrape away 
the covering sand-layer from about the upper three-fourths of 
the mound, cover the whole of it over again with vegetable 
matter, and then cover the whole in again with the sand. In 
the large mound, an old one, into which I carefully cut a narrow 
section from centre to margin, this arrangement was very per- 
ceptible ; in it I thought I could trace, by the more or less 
wedge-shaped portions of pure sand along the base (the rem- 
nants of successive outer coverings of sand, the basal portions 
of which have never been removed), ten or perhaps eleven 
successive renovations of the mound ; even the central portion 
was perfectly cool. The vegetable matter had in a great mea- 
sure disappeared, leaving only the hard woody portions behind, 
but showing where it had been by the discolouration of the sand. 
The decay of the vegetable matter, and the bird's habit (as I 
judge from appearances) of not removing the basal portion of 
the sandy covering at each renovation, sufficiently explain why 
the mounds increase so much more in radius than in height. 

A smaller mound, one as I take it still in use, though I could 
find no eggs in it, contained a much greater amount of vege- 
table matter, and was sensibly warm inside. I could make no 
section of it, as it was too full of imperfectly decayed vegeta- 
tion. I believe that the bird depends for the hatching of its 
eggs solely on the warmth generated by chemical action. The 
succulent decaying vegetation, constant moisture, and finely 
triturated lime, all combined in a huge heap, will account for 
a considerable degree of artificial heat. 

I am by no means satisfied that only one pair of birds use 
the same mound ; on the contrary, the Nicobarese I had with 
me that day explained, as I understood, that, though one pair 
begin the mound, they and all their progeny keep on using 
and adding to it for years ; and they told us that they had, 
during the previous month, taken at one time some twenty eggs 
out of one and the same mound, which also they took us to see, 
and which was perhaps five feet high and sixteen or eighteen 
feet in diameter, and which was the freshest-looking I had 
seen. 

The eggs are excessively elongated ovals, enormously large 
for the size of the bird. They vary a great deal in size, and a 
good deal in shape ; all are much elongated, but some are more 
like Turtles' eggs than those of a bird. When first laid, they 
are of a uniform ruddy pink, as we know from having obtained 



THE NICOBAR MEGAPODE. 1 23 

one before the bird had time even to bury it ; after being buried, 
so long as the egg remains quite fresh, it continues a pale pink, 
but as the chicken develops within, the egg becomes a buffy 
stone colour, and when near about hatching, it is a very pale 
yellowish brown. The whole colouring matter is contained in 
an excessively thin chalky flake, which is easily scraped off, 
leaving a pure white chalky shell below. This outer coloured 
coat seems to have a great tendency to flake off in spots, specks, 
and even large blotches, as the chicken is developed within. 
Quite fresh-laid eggs rarely exhibit any white marks of any 
kind, while those more or less approaching hatching (one can- 
not say incubated in this case) are invariably more or less 
mottled with white. Occasionally fairly fresh eggs are dug 
out, bearing along their entire length on one side two parallel 
white lines made apparently by the claws of the mother bird 
when scraping the sand over them. The eggs are always a 
little pointed towards one end, and some, especially the less 
cylindrical ones, are conspicuously so. The shell is entirely 
devoid of gloss, and the surface is everywhere roughened with 
innumerable minute pores, which occur equally in the exterior 
coloured flake and the white, somewhat less chalky, shell be- 
neath. 

In length the eggs vary from 3*01 to 3*4, and in breadth 
from 1 -9 to 2*25 ; but the average of sixty-two eggs that I have 
carefully measured is 3*25 by 2*07. 



THE FOLLOWING is a. resume oi the dimensions of 15 speci- 
mens measured in the flesh. The birds vary a good deal in size, 
but this is probably due to age, and certainly not to sex, as some 
of the largest and some of the smallest birds belonged to each 
sex : — 

Length, 14*5 to 17 ; expanse, 28 to 32*5 ; wing, 8 to 9*5 ; 
tail from vent, 275 to 3*5 ; tarsus, 2*6 to 275 ; bill from gape, 
I "2 to 1*3 ; bill at front, 0*94 to ri ; wings, when closed, reach 
from within one inch of, to quite the end of tail. In weight 
they vary from I lb. 5 ozs. to 2 lbs. 2 ozs. 

Legs and feet ; front of tarsus dark horny, in some greenish 
horny ; scutae often irregularly marked with lighter horny ; 
front of toes darker horny than tarsus, darkening still more 
towards claws ; claws dark horny above, lighter horny beneath, 
and tipped light horny ; soles pale carneous, sometimes pale 
yellow ; tibio-tarsal articulation, back and sides of tarsi, dull 
brick or litharge red ; bill light greenish or yellowish horny, 
yellower along edge of mandibles ; lores and whole orbital and 
aural region, and visible portions of the skin of the neck, show- 
ing through between the sparse feathers, varying from a light, 
somewhat dull, cherry red to a bright brick red ; irides light 
brown or hazel brown. 



124 THE NICOBAR MEGAPODE. 

The PLATE is fairly good, but the legs and feet are, as usual, 
quite wrongly coloured, though Captain Marshall took home 
with him, for the artists in this and other cases, full and exact 
descriptions. The shade of the plumage varies much in differ- 
ent specimens ; in some birds, as in the figure in the back 
ground, the lower surface is much greyer, and the upper surface 
paler and yellower than in others. In some, again, the tints are 
even darker than in the bird depicted in the foreground. The 
plate is wrongly lettered. 



The Megapodes, of which between twenty and thirty other 
species have been described, belong to the Islands of the 
Archipelago and of the Pacific, New Guinea, and Australia. 



^^^u/ 




LOPHOPHORUS IMPEYANUS 



Lophophorus impeyanus, Latham. 



Vernacular lTam©S.—[Lont {male), Ham {female), Nil-mor, Jungli-mor, Kashmir; 
Manal Neel, {male), Kururi, Karari {female), Kullu ; Moonal {male), Moonalee 
{JemaleS, Ghur-monal, Ruttia Cowan, Ratnal, Rat-kap, Central Himalayas ; 
IJatteya, Thibet and Bhot Pergunnahs of Kumaun and Garhwdl ; Dangan, 
Dafai, Damphia, Nepal ; Chamdong ( Bhotia), Phodong-pho ( Lepcha) Sikhim.] 



ROM the western* borders of Kashmir to the more 
western portions, at any rate, of Bhutan, the 
Moonal is found in suitable localities throughout 
the Himalayas. So far as is known it extends no- 
where beyond these mountains. 




What IS essential to this species is elevation and 
forest. All our Pheasants in the Himalayas may, as 
Hodgson (I think) pointed out thirty or forty years ago, be 
roughly divided into three classes ; firstly, those of the high 
mountains to which belong the Moonal, the Snow Cocks, the 
Blood Pheasant, and the Tragopans ; secondly, those of the 
mid region, the Cheer, the Koklass, and the various Kalij 
Pheasants ; and thirdly, the Jungle Fowl of the lower region. 

And you must have vegetation and forest as well as consider- 
able altitudes ; it would be vain to seek the Moonal in the stony 
wildernesses of Lahoul and Spiti, or the desert steppes of 
Ladakh. 

I have shot many Moonal in my time, and have seen a 
vast number more. There are few sights more striking, where 
birds are concerned, than that of a grand old cock shooting 
out horizontally from the hill-side just below one, glittering 
and flashing in the golden sunlight, a gigantic rainbow-tinted 
gem, and then dropping stone-like, with closed wings, into 
the abyss below. I could say a good deal about these glorious 
birds, but almost all that I or any one could say was said in 
his own inimitable style thirty years ago by my old friend Mr. 
Frederic Wilson, whose charming narrative remains a "joy 
for ever." 

He says : — 

" The Moonal is found on almost every hill of any elevation, 
from the first great ridge above the plains to the limits of 

* Biddulph says : " I have procured the Moonal from Chitral, where it is common," 



126 THE MOONAL. 

forest, and in the interior it is the most abundant of our game 
birds. When the hills near Mussooree were first visited by 
Europeans, it was found to be common there, and a few may 
still be seen on the same ridge eastwards from Landour. 

" In summer, when the rank vegetation which springs up in 
the forest renders it impossible to see many yards around, 
few are to be met with, except near the summits of the great 
ridges jutting from the snow, where morning and evening, when 
they come out to feed, they may be seen in the open 
glades of the forest and on the green slopes above. At that 
time no one would imagine they were half so numerous as 
they really are ; but, as the cold season approaches, and the 
rank grass and herbage dies away, and they begin to collect 
together, the woods seem full of them, and in some places 
hundreds may be put up in a day's walk. 

" In summer, the greater number of the males, and some of 
the females, ascend to near the limits of the forests where the 
hills attain a great elevation, and may often be seen on the 
grassy slopes a considerable distance above these limits. 

" In autumn, they all descend into the forest, frequenting those 
parts where the ground is thickly covered with decayed leaves, 
under which they search for grubs ; and they descend lower 
and lower as winter sets in and the ground becomes frozen or 
covered with snow. If the season be severe, and the ground cover- 
ed to a great depth, they collect in the woods which face to the 
south or east, where the snow soon melts in the more exposed 
parts, or descend much lower down the hill, where it is not so 
deep, and thaws sufficiently to allow them to lay bare the earth 
under the bushes and in sheltered places. Many, particularly 
females and young birds, resort to the neighbourhood of the 
villages situated high up in the woods, and may often be seen 
in numbers in the fields. Still, in the severest weather, when 
fall after fall has covered the ground to a great depth in the 
higher forests, many remain there the whole winter ; these are 
almost all males, and probably old birds. 

" In spring all in the lower parts gradually ascend as the 
snow disappears. 

" In the autumnal and winter months, numbers are generally 
collected together in the same quarter of the forest, though 
often so widely scattered that each bird appears to be alone. 
Sometimes a person may walk for a mile through a wood 
without seeing one, and suddenly come to some spot, where, 
within the compass of a few hundred yards, upwards of a 
score will get up in succession. At another time, or in another 
forest, they will be found dispersed over every part, one getting 
up here, another there, two or three further on, and so on, 
for miles. 

" The females keep more together than the males ; they 
also descend lower down the hills, and . earlier and more gene- 



THE MOONAL, 12/ 

rally leave the sheltered woods for exposed parts or the vicinity 
of the villages on the approach of winter. Both sexes are 
often found separately in considerable numbers. On the lower 
part or exposed side of the hill, scores of females and young 
birds may be met with, without a single old male ; while 
higher up, or on the sheltered side, none but males may 
be found. In summer they are more separated, but do not keep 
in individual pairs, several being often found together. 

" It may be questioned whether they do pair or not in places 
where they are at all numerous ; if they do, it would appear 
that the union is dissolved as soon as the female begins to sit, 
for the male seems to pay no attention whatever to her whilst 
sitting, or to the young brood when hatched, and is seldom 
found with them. 

" The call of the Moonal is a loud, plaintive whistle, which is 
often heard in the forest at daybreak or towards evening, and 
occasionally at all hours of the day. 

In severe weather numbers may be heard calling in different 
quarters of the wood before they retire to roost. The call has 
a rather melancholy sound, or it may be that, as the shades of 
a dreary winter's evening begin to close on the snow-covered hills 
around, the cold and cheerless aspect of nature, with which it 
seems quite in unison, makes it appear so. 

" From April to the commencement of the cold season, the 
Moonal, though there is nothing of cunning or artifice in its 
nature, is rather wild and shy, but this gives way to the all- 
taming influence of winter's frosts and snows ; and from October 
it gradually becomes less and less wild, until it may be said to be 
almost tame, but as it is often found in places nearly free from 
underwood, and never attempts to escape observation by con- 
cealing itself in the grass or bushes, it is perhaps sooner alarmed, 
and at a greater distance, than other Pheasants, and may, 
therefore, appear to a casual observer at all times a little wild 
and timid. 

" In spring it often rises a long way in front, and it is difficult 
to get near it when it again alights, if it does not at once fly too 
far to follow, but in winter it may often be approached within 
gun-shot on the ground, and when flushed, it generally alights 
on a tree at no great distance, and you may then walk quite 
close to it before it again takes wing. 

"In the forest, when alarmed, it generally rises at once without 
calling or running far on the ground ; but on the open glades 
or grassy slopes, or any place to which it comes only to feed, 
it will, if not hard pressed, run or walk slowly away in preference 
to getting up ; and a distant bird, when alarmed by the rising of 
others, will occasionally begin and continue calling for some time 
while on the ground. 

" It gets up with a loud fluttering and a rapid succession of 
shrill screeching whistles, often continued till it alights, when it 



128 THE MOONAL. 

occasionally commences its ordinary loud and plaintive call and 
continues it for some time. 

" In winter, when one or two birds have been flushed, all 
within hearing soon get alarmed ; if they are collected together, 
they get up in rapid succession ; if distantly scattered, bird after 
bird slowly gets up, the shrill call of each as it rises alarming 
others still further off, till all in the immediate neighbourhood 
have risen. In the chestnut forests, where they often collect 
in large flocks, and where there is little underwood, and the 
trees, thinly dispersed and entirely stripped of their leaves, allow of 
an extensive view through the wood, I have often stood till 
twenty or thirty have got up and alighted in the surrounding 
trees and have then walked up to the different trees and fired at 
those I wished to procure without alarming the rest, only 
those very close to the one fired at being disturbed at each 
report. 

" In spring they are more independent of each other's move- 
ments ; and, though much wilder, are more apt to wait, before 
rising, till individually disturbed. When they alight in the 
trees and are again flushed, the second flight is always a long 
one. When repeatedly disturbed by the sportsman or shikaris, 
they often take along flight in the first instance. 

" The seasons also have great influence over them in this res- 
pect, as well as in their degree of tameness or wildness. In 
spring, when the snow has melted in almost every part of the 
forest, and they have little difficulty in procuring an abundance 
of food, they appear careless about being driven from any parti- 
cular spot, and often fly a long way ; but in winter, when a 
sufficiency of food is not easily obtained, they cling to particular 
localities, seem more intent on satisfying their hunger, and do 
not so much heed the appearance of man. 

" The females appear at all times much tamer than the males. 
The latter have one peculiarity not common in birds of this 
order : if intent on making a long flight, an old male, after fly- 
ing a short way, will often cease flapping his wings, and soar 
along with a trembling vibratory motion at a considerable height 
in the air, when, particularly if the sun be shining on his brilliant 
plumage, he appears to great advantage, and certainly looks one 
of the most magnificent of the Pheasant tribe. 

" In autumn the Moonal feeds chiefly on a grub or maggot 
which it finds under the decayed leaves ; at other times 
on roots, leaves, and young shoots of various shrubs and gras- 
ses, acorns, and other seeds and berries. In winter it often 
feeds in the wheat and barley fields, but does not touch the 
grain ; roots and maggots seem to be its sole inducement for 
digging amongst it. At all times and in all seasons, it is very 
assiduous in the operation of digging, and continues at it for 
hours together. In the higher forests, large open plots occur 
quite free from trees or underwood, and early in the morning, 



THE MOONAL. 1 29 

or towards evening, these may often be seen dotted over with 
Moonals, all busily engaged at their favourite occupation. 

" The Moonal roosts in the larger forest trees, but in summer, 
when near or above their limits, will often roost on the ground 
in some steep rocky spot The flesh is considered by some 
nearly equal to Turkey, and by others as scarcely eatable. In 
autumn and winter, many, particularly females and young 
birds, are excellent, and scarcely to be surpassed in flavour or 
delicacy by any of the tribe, while from the end of winter most 
are found to be the reverse. They are easily kept in confine- 
ment, and one would imagine might, without much difficulty, 
be naturalized in Europe. 

" The young males for the first year nearly resemble the 
females, but may easily be distinguished by the white feathers 
on the chin and throat being spotted with black. The vent 
feathers are also marked with the same, and the whole plumage 
has a darker and rather glossy appearance. When changing 
their plumage, they appear spotted all over with the brilliant 
metallic hues of the adult, and often present a very singular 
appearance. The second year they receive the whole of their 
splendid colours, with the exception of the seventh long 
feather of the wing which keeps the brown colour for another 
year. 

" The most indifferent sportsman will find little difficulty in 
getting the Moonal. After the rains, till the end of October, 
the forests are scarcely fit to shoot in, except occasional spots in 
the higher parts ; and, though a few may be picked up, good 
sport cannot be expected till later in the season. In the 
spring, about the borders of the forests on the high ridges 
between one large valley and another, and about the large open 
grassy plots which abound in those regions, they will be found 
in great numbers ; and, though rather wild, to one partial to bird- 
shooting, afford very fair sport. Always walk below the place 
you expect to find them, as, with all the rest of the Himalayan 
Pheasants, they invariably fly downwards. If a shot cannot be 
had as the bird rises, and it alights on a tree, it is generally 
easy to approach it by getting the trunk of an intervening 
one betwixt the bird and yourself, keeping the body of the 
bird covered with the trunk till near enough. The most agree- 
able way of shooting Moonals is to change the smooth bore 
for a small rifle, as most of the shots will be while the birds 
are in trees, and many which offer a fair shot for a rifle at eighty 
or hundred yards fly off before one can get near enough for shot ; 
besides, it is excellent practice. From sportsmen only visiting the 
interior in spring, or immediately after the rains, few can have 
any idea what magnificent sport these birds afford in winter, 
when collected together in a small extent of forest. One has 
only then to encamp near some elevated village, in a well-wooded 
neighbourhood, and in the morning or evening ten or a dozen 

17 



130 THE MOONAL. 

may be killed in an hour's walk, while at other times half that 
number is a fair bag for a good shot and a persevering walker 
to bring home after a whole day's shooting." 

I would add that, as is the case with all our Hill Pheasants, 
you require, if you want to enjoy the sport, a couple of good 
strong dogs, middle-sized spaniels, with good noses and trained 
to retrieve. 

In a recent letter to me Wilson says : — " There is one 
peculiarity about the Moonal which I forgot to notice. Where- 
ever they are rare, there they are also sure to be very wild and 
shy. This is the case whether we look to countries widely 
separated, in one of which the birds are numerous, and in the other 
scarce, or to different neighbouring localities. For instance, 
Moonal are comparatively rare in Kashmir, while they are 
very abundant in Garhwal. In the former country they are 
very wild and shy ; in the latter, as a rule, quite tame in compari- 
son. But even in Garhwal, there are in many places miles and 
miles of forest, the Gangutri forests, for instance, where 
Moonals are as rare as in Kashmir, and in these places they 
are quite as wild ; while in other forests, barely a day's march 
distant, they are plentiful and Barn-door Fowls in comparative 
tameness." 

The great demand for the brilliant skins of the Moonal that 
has existed for many years has led to their almost total 
extermination in some parts of the hills, as the native shi- 
karis shoot and snare for the pot as well as for skins, and 
kill as many females as males. On the other hand, though for 
nearly thirty years my friend Mr. Wilson has yearly sent home 
from 1,000 to 1,500 skins of this species and the Tragopan, 
there are still in the woods whence they were obtained as many 
as, if not more than, when he first entered them, simply because 
he has rigidly preserved females and nests, and (as amongst 
English Pheasants) one cock suffices for several hens. 

No doubt the number of birds has greatly decreased in many 
of the more frequented localities during the past decade even, 
but I know scores of rather out-of-the-way forest-clad ranges 
where a man, who worked for them late in autumn or in winter, 
would still have no difficulty in bringing from five to eight brace 
to book in a day. It is common to lament the Moonal as rapidly 
becoming a thing of the past, but let sportsmen cheer up, there 
is a right good sprinkling of them still left. 

I see that Wilson says nothing very definite as to range of 
elevation, and I may say that this varies commonly from about 
6,000 to 12,000 feet, partly according to season, and partly 
according to the individual idiosyncracy of the bird. But I have 
shot an old cock, sunning himself on the point of a project- 
ing rock just like a snow cock, at close to 15,000 feet elevation^ 
and I have known stragglers killed by my people after bad 
weather in quite low valleys, not above 4,500 feet above sea level. 



THE MOONAL. 131 

During the winter the natives trap and snare them through- 
out the Himalayas, and since skins of males have become worth 
Rs. 5 or 6 a piece, even to the villager who captures the bird, 
this business has received a great stimulus. The most common 
plan is to set nooses of sinew, gut, or the fibres of one of the hill 
nettles, about the localities they affect, in between a couple of 
rocks or bushes, or in openings purposely left in some small 
artificial barrier ; but in some places they catch them with 
falling blocks of wood, just as capercailzie are trapped in 
Norway and Sweden. 

Once or twice late in April I have come upon males nautch- 
ing, with wings drooped, tail cocked and outspread, and breast 
almost touching the ground, shivering and quivering spasmodi- 
cally, and moving backwards and forwards with tiny steps like 
Turkey-cocks, but the birds were always off before I could 
really study the peculiarities of their nuptial dance. 



The MOONAL breeds throughout the forest-clad ranges of the 
Himalayas, at any rate from Kashmir to Bhutan, at elevations 
of from 7,000 or 8,000 to fully 12,000 feet. 

The breeding season is in May and June. They have only 
one brood, and the female alone incubates the eggs and rears 
the young. 

Usually the eggs are laid in a bare depression in the 
ground, scratched by the female, under the shelter of some 
overhanging rock, the massive root of some large tree, or some 
thick tuft of fern, but at times the hollow is more or less 
lined with dry grass, dead leaves, or a little moss. 

In localities where they are very numerous, e.g., on the 
" C/ior" not far from Simla, several nests may be found within a 
circle of a hundred yards, as if the females were, even at this 
season (as they are at all others), more or less gregarious. 

Six is the largest number of eggs that I have known to be found 
in any one nest, and four or five is certainly the usual number ; 
but native sportsmen talk of finding occasionally as many as a 
dozen. 

Long ago my old friend " Mountaineer" remarked : " The 
female makes her nest under a small overhanging bush or tuft of 
grass, and lays five eggs of a dull white, speckled with reddish 
brown. The chicks are hatched about the end of May." 

He now writes to me from Garhwal : — 

11 The Moonal breeds at elevations from 8,000 to 12,000 feet 
in all sorts of forest. Some begin to lay early in May, others 
not till the end of the month. The nest is placed in much the 
same situations as that of the Koklass, that is to say, always 
under some slight shelter, an overhanging bush or tuft of grass, 
or rock or stone, or in the hollow at the foot of a tree, or under 
an old trunk. It is merely a hole scraped in the ground, but 
bits of grass, leaves, &c, which are round it, are often dropped 



132 THE MOONAL. 

in, and, with some feathers from the bird, form a sort of lining. 
Nothing is brought in to make a nest either by the Moonal or, 
I think, any others of our hill game birds. I have generally 
found five eggs in a nest, sometimes only two or three, but never 
more than five. In a small work which I lately read, Five 
Weeks in the Himalayas, by Captain Matthias, the author 
mentions finding a Moonal's nest with nine eggs, but I fancy 
he must have mistaken the nest of a Koklass for that of a 
Moonal. The eggs are about 275 long and 175 wide, buffish 
white, powdered with chocolate and in some with spots and 
blotches of the same colour. If the eggs are hatched under a 
domestic fowl, the chicks take readily to the foster mother, but 
often seem at a loss how to get on with her. The young broods 
in the forest are generally found with the hen bird only. Indeed , 
I doubt if the Moonal pairs at all. Where they are rare, they 
may do so ; but where numerous, I think not. For a couple of 
months the chicks are alike in colour, and then the males begin 
to change slightly. At four months they are easily distinguish- 
able, though they get none of the bright feathers till the second 
moult." 

Writing from Dharmsala, Captain Cock said : " The Moonal 
breeds in May and June, and lays from five to eight eggs in a 
hollow on the ground, either under some rock or fallen tree, or a 
thick rhododendron bush. The eggs vary in colour, but not in 
shape, — some being spotted with broad spots, and others speck- 
led 'with fine specks. The eggs are very like those of the 
Turkey. The nidification of this bird depends much on the 
year. In mild winters, when the snow is off the ground, they 
begin earlier. No nest to speak of is made, but a few feathers 
are sometimes found about the eggs." 

Captain Hutton writes : " These birds do not occur so low 
down as Mussooree, but are found in abundance on the next 
range. In days of yore they were found at Simla, but civili- 
zation has of late years banished them to less disturbed localities. 
It makes no nest, but lays its eggs on the ground ; the number 
not satisfactorily ascertained, as one nest contained three, and 
another four, eggs of a pale brown or sandy hue, thickly 
sprinkled over with reddish brown spots and dashes." 

The eggs in shape and size closely approximate to those of 
our domestic Indian Turkey, but are, as a whole, slightly larger, 
and, considering how much heavier the Turkey is, this difference 
in the egg is remarkable. The shell is fine and compact, show- 
ing none of the pores so conspicuous on Pea-Fowl's eggs ; but 
they have only a faint gloss, and contrast in this respect strongly 
with the eggs that our domesticated Turkeys here commonly 
lay. The shape is a long oval, a good deal compressed towards 
the small end. The ground colour is a pale cafe au lait or bufTy 
white, and they are thickly and coarsely freckled all over, but 
most thickly over the central portion of the egg, with deep 



THE MOONAL. 133 

reddish brown, which has a sort of raw sienna tint. The mark- 
ings are sometimes nearly wanting towards the small end, and 
are always, I think, least conspicuous and least dense at the 
two ends. Sometimes the whole egg is densely mottled all 
over with the reddish brown ; sometimes again the markings are 
almost wholly wanting ; and in some they are gathered into 
large and comparatively bold blotches. 

In length the eggs vary from 2*41 to 2*69, and in width from 
17 to 1*89 ; but the average of thirty-six eggs is 2*55 by 178. 



These birds vary a good deal in size, and very notably in 
weight, according to age. 

Males. — Length, 26 to 29 ; expanse, 34 to 37 ; tail from vent, 
9*5 to io*5; wing, 11 to 12*2; tarsus, 27 to 3*0; bill from 
gape, 1*9 to 2' 1. Weight, 4ft>s. 6 ozs. to 5 fibs. 40ZS. 

Females. — Length, 24 to 26 ; expanse, 34*0 to 36*5 ; tail 
from vent, 9-0 to IO'O ; wing, 10*3 to in ; tarsus, 2-65 to 2*9 ; 
bill from gape, 17 to 1*9. Weight, 4fibs. to 4fibs. 12 ozs. 

In the male the bill is blackish, with the ridge, cutting edges, 
and lower mandible pale horny. In the female it is paler ; the 
upper mandible a dark horny ; the lower whitish ; the legs and 
feet vary from dusky greenish to pale yellowish green ; the 
claws are dark horny ; irides clear, dark brown ; orbital skin 
pure cserulean to brilliant turquoise blue. 



The PLATE, though it very fairly represents the shape and 
general appearance of both sexes, fails utterly to convey any 
adequate conception of the intensely brilliant metallic lustre 
of the upper plumage of the male. Perhaps no chromo could 
accurately reproduce this. 



v ^^w 



■0 




LOPHOPHORUS SCLATERI 



Ill llllfllil MfNML 



Lophophorus sclateri, Jerdon, 



Vernacular Names-— [ ? ] 




OTHING is yet known of the habits, or even of the 
exact habitat, of this striking bird. 

A few live specimens, and a few bad skins have, 
from time to time, been brought down by, I believe, 
both Mishmis and Abors, to the fair held an- 
nually at Sadiya, the most easterly of our stations 
at the extreme head of the Assam Valley. 
The bird is said to come from the higher hills, east and south- 
east of Sadiya. 

The female is as yet unknown. 



As REGARDS dimensions, I can only give what I recorded from 
the only fine skin I ever saw, with the colours of the soft parts as 
noted for me from the live bird by Dr. Jerdon, who may be 
considered the real discoverer of the species. 

Length, 27 ; wing, 12*4 ; tail from vent, 9 ; bill at front, 
straight, 1*3 ; from gape, 1*95 ; tarsus (feathered in front and at 
the sides for 1*2), 3*2 ; mid-toe to root of claw, 2*45 ; claw, 075 ; 
hind-toe to root of claw, 0*8 ; claw, 0*6. 

On one leg a short blunt spur, 0*5 in length, on the other 
merely a low horny boss. 

The fifth quill is the longest, the sixth sub-equal, the fourth 
0*3, the third 0*9, the second 2*1, and the first t6 shorter than 
the longest. 

There is a large bare space all round the eye, which, in the 
fresh bird, is bright blue, dotted with tiny tufts of black hair- 
like feathers ; the irides are brown ; the legs and feet brown 
or yellowish brown ; the bill yellowish horny. 



The Plate, copied, I believe, from one in the P. Z. S., though 
like that of the common Moonal, failing to do justice to the 
metallic radiance of the plumage, is, in most other respects, good, 
but it wrongly exhibits the legs as lead coloured ; represents the 
facial skin as too pale and dull coloured, and the band on the 
tail, which is really a deep maroon chestnut, as far too pale and 
orange. 



136 THE CRESTLESS MOONAL. 

I have never seen the bird alive, but I have examined a very 
fine skin of a male, and a brief description taken from this skin 
may be useful : — 

" The entire lower parts, including the wing lining, velvet black ; 
the feathers in one light with a dim slightly greenish, and in 
another light with a faint purplish reflection. 

" The sides, top, and back of the head metallic green ; all the 
occipital and nuchal feathers curled up, much like the feathers 
on a pelican's neck ; the ear-coverts metallic green, with a de- 
cided steel blue glance ; the entire back and sides of the neck 
rich burnished copper colour ; base of the back of the neck and 
entire interscapulary region very bright metallic green, scarcely 
at all mingled with any other coloured reflections ; middle back, 
rump, and upper tail-coverts pure silvery white ; most of the 
feathers of the rump dark shafted ; tail a deep maroon chestnut, 
all the feathers broadly tipped with white ; primaries and their 
greater coverts and secondaries black, the latter with metallic 
reflections towards the tips on the outer webs ; the rest of the 
wing and scapulars all with a brilliant metallic lustre, as it were 
burnished, mostly more or less green in one light, but the 
feathers about the shoulder of the wing with a deep steel blue 
and purple glow ; the lesser coverts immediately below these 
with an intense ruddy golden or coppery glow, and most of the 
lesser and median coverts and the outer scapulars with more or 
less of golden or coppery reflections in different lights. 



A THIRD species of this genus, Lophophoriis Vhnysii, is known 
from Chinese Tibet. It is even larger than either of our birds, 
and is well crested, though the crest is quite different to that 
of the common Moonal. 



^Q ^lLJ 




CERIORNIS SATYRA 



Ceriornis satyra, LinnL 



VornaCTllad 1 ITaBlGS-— [Loongee, British Garhwdl and Kumaun ; Omo, (Bhutia) 
Moonal, (Perbuttia) Nepal ; Tirriakpho (Lepcha), Bup, (Bhotia), Nunal 
(Hindustani), Sikhim ; Dafia (Bengali, apud Jerdon ) ]. 




HE higher wooded ranges of the Central and Eastern 
Himalayas are the home of our Crimson Tragopan. 

Westwards, it extends to Kumaun and the western 
portions of British Garhwal, where the Alaknanda 
Valley marks its westernmost limits.* It is found 
in suitable localities throughout Nepal and Sikhim 
and well into Bhutan. How much further east it 
occurs is still uncertain. Godwin-Austen does not mention it in 
his list of Daphla Hill birds, but I have seen a skin sent from 
Tezpur said to have been brought down from these Hills. 



In THE SUMMER they are to be found at elevations of from 
8,000 to 10,000 feet, always in thick cover, by preference in 
patches of the slender reed-like ringal bamboo, in the neigh- 
bourhood of water. 

Although always on hills near to or bordering on the snow, 
they are never seen amongst it (except perhaps in winter), 
and seem to shun it, as much as the Blood Pheasant delights 
in it. Even the Moonal will be seen high above the forest, well 
up on grassy slopes, fringed with and dotted about with patches 
of snow. But the Tragopan is essentially a forest bird, rarely if 
ever wandering up towards the snow or into the open, and 
though frequenting perhaps rather their outskirts than their 
deeper recesses, it hardly ever voluntarily quits the shelter of 
the woods and their dense undergrowth. 

Except by chance, when you may come upon a male 
sunning himself or preening his feathers on some projecting 
rock or bare trunk of a fallen tree, these birds are never to be 
seen, unless by aid of three or four good dogs, who will speedily 

* During a period of over 30 years that he has worked these hills, Mr. Wilson has 
known only one exception to this rule. Once one of his people shot a cock-bird 
of this species, a good deal further west, viz., in the Kattor Valley, three valleys west 
of the Alaknanda Valley. 

Colonel Fisher's testimony is nearly to the same effect. He says : — 
"This bird occurs in all the northern pargannas of Kumaun, but only in the two 
north-eastern pargannas, Dasoli and Painkhunda, of Garhwal and not, I think, 
further west. 

18 



138 THE INDIAN CRIMSON TRAGOPAN. 

rouse them up, or of a trained shikari, who will call them out 
by cleverly imitating their loud bleating cry. 

If you ever catch a passing glimpse of them, it is but for a 
second ; they drop like stones from their perch and dart away 
with incredible swiftness, always running, never, so far as I have 
seen, rising, unless you accidentally almost walk on to them or 
have dogs with you. 

With good dogs, it is easy enough at times to get them out of 
the ringal patches that they seem to affect so much ; they can- 
not run much in these, and as they fluster up to get clear of the 
bamboos, they present the easiest of shots. When well on 
the wing they go swift enough, generally down hill, dropping 
after a quarter of a mile, and then invariably making tracks on 
foot. It is useless to seek them where they lit, but a cast down 
the side of the hill, three or four hundred yards right or left 
of the line they took ( and if there is only one gun you must 
guess from the look of the ground which way they are likely 
to have worked), will often put the dogs near enough to find 
them. The hens are never, I think, seen unless roused by the 
dogs, and while cocks get up single, three or four hens will be 
put up in the same place, I mean within a few yards of each 
other. 

To judge from those I have examined, they feed much on 
insects, young green shoots of bamboos, and on some onion-like 
bulbs, but Mr. Hodgson notes that those he examined had fed 
on wild fruits, rhododendron seeds, and, in some cases, entirely 
on aromatic leaves, bastard cinnamon, daphne, &c. 

When first roused, they do not take long flights ; if the 
dogs come upon them, as often happens before they have seen 
you, they will fly up straight into a tree, and call vociferously, 
craning down from some nearly horizontal branch at the yelp- 
ing dogs ; but if they have become aware of the man, they 
dart off, threading their way through the wilderness of trunks, 
and are soon lost in the dim recesses of the forest. 

If you succeed in rousing them a second time, or if you have 
fired at them on a previous day, or even if several shots have 
been recently fired in their immediate neighbourhood, and you 
put them up just at the outskirts of the forest, so that there 
is a clear field before them, they will go right away, across the 
valley, or right over a hill's brow with a power of wing not to 
have been anticipated from their usual, when first disturbed, 
short dodging flights. 

At the end of April, and very likely earlier, the males are heard 
continually calling. When one is heard calling in any moderate- 
sized patch of jungle, you make for the nearest adjoining cover, 
and work your way sufficiently near to the outside to get a view 
of the intervening space. Then you squat, and your man begins 
calling. Very soon he is answered, too often by some wretch of 
a bird behind you, who persists in feretting you out, gets scent of 



THE INDIAN CRIMSON TRAGOPAN. 1 39 

you, and goes off with a sudden series of alarm notes that 
frightens every other bird within a mile, you never having caught 
the smallest glimpse of it throughout. But if you are in luck, 
and all goes well, the right bird, and the right bird only answers, 
and answers nearer and nearer, till, just as your dusky comrade, 
forgetting, in his excitement, his wonted respect, pinches your 
leo-, you see a head emerge for a second from the bases of the 
ringal stems opposite ; again and again the head comes out with 
more and more of the neck turned rapidly right and left, and 
then out darts the would-be combatant towards you ; the 
gun goes off, everything is hid for a moment in the smoke 
hanging on the damp morning air, and then — well there is no 
trace of the Tragopan ! I protest that this is an exact account of 
the only good chance I ever had at one of these birds on the 
calling " lay." 

Alas ! " the merry days when we were young !" I was soaking 
wet, my legs were perfect porcupines of spear grass (we had crossed 
a low valley) and leeches innumerable were feasting on my miser- 
able self, but I said, and thought, that it was splendid sport ! 

The most characteristic points about these Tragopans are 
the fleshy horns of the males and their gular lappet, which 
latter, during the breeding season, especially when the birds are 
excited by passion, extends downwards several inches, but which, 
during the winter, are barely traceable. 

The horns, too, though erected when courting, are greatly dimi- 
nished in size during the winter, and even during the breeding 
season are, except at moments of excitement, concealed amongst 
the crest feathers. They commence on the forehead opposite the 
anterior angle of the eye, and their bases extend backwards, as 
far as opposite the posterior angle, but despite this lengthened 
base, above which they are sub-cylindrical, they lie back closely 
against the occiput and back of the neck, and are completely 
hidden by the crest. 

The whole orbital region is covered with a peculiar thick vel- 
vety skin, which is prolonged over the lower jaw, and below this 
spread and loosened into the gular flap. On the cheeks this skin 
is thinly clad with small soft plumes, on the jaws and chin thinly 
sprinkled with hair-like feathers, and on the throat quite naked. 

Brilliant as is the plumage of the birds, its effect is greatly 
enhanced by the vivid blue of the horns and cheeks and blue and 
orange of the wattle, but these are only to be seen to their 
fullest advantage when the bird is courting. I have never wit- 
nessed their nuptial dances, but natives have told me of it, and 
it has been observed in captivity and carefully described by Mr. 
Bartlet, as seen by him in the Zoological Society's Gardens. He 
says : — " The males can only be seen to advantage in the early 
morning and in the evening, as they conceal themselves during 
the day ; the females, however, are less retiring in their habits. 
When the male is not excited, the horns lie concealed under 



140 THE INDIAN CRIMSON TRAGOPAN. 

two triangular patches of red feathers, their points meeting at 
the occiput ; the large wattle is also concealed or displayed at 
the will of the bird. The male has three distinct modes 
of * showing off/ if I may be allowed the expression. After walk- 
ing about rather excitedly, he places himself in front of the 
female, with the body slightly crouching upon the legs, and the 
tail bent downwards ; the head is then violently jerked down- 
wards, and the horns and wattle become conspicuous. The wings 
have a flapping motion, and the bright red patch on them is fully 
displayed. The whole of the neck appears to be larger than 
usual during this action, as do also the horns, which, moreover, 
vibrate with every movement. This scene is concluded by 
the bird suddenly drawing himself up to his full height, with his 
wings expanded and quivering, the horns erect, and the wattle 
fully displayed. The second mode consists of simply erecting 
all his feathers, and elevating one shoulder, thereby exposing 
a greater surface to view, without however showing his head- 
dress. The third mode is by simply standing boldly erect on 
an elevated perch, giving the head one or two sudden shakes, 
and causing the horns and wattle to appear for a few mo- 
ments." 

In the cold weather they descend much lower, and are then 
much tamer, and, as Captain Beavan tells us, readily snared. 
Writing of Sikhim, he says : — 

" The winter months, when the underwood is not so dense 
as at other seasons, are the only period of the year at which 
even the natives can get at them. The usual plan of capture 
is by making a hedge of bushes about three feet high, extend- 
ing down the sides of a hill, like the sides of a triangle, with 
the base open. The sides are made to gradually converge 
until near the apex, where small gaps are left, in each of which 
a noose is placed. The birds are then slowly driven by men 
on foot walking in line from and parallel to the base of the 
triangle and towards its apex ; and the birds continuing 
to run instead of resorting to flight, dash through the openings 
and are caught in the nooses. A curious fact with regard to 
this mode of capture is, that the proportion of males to 
females is generally four or five of the former to one of the 
latter." 

Some of Colonel Tickell's reminiscences of this species are 
well worth reproduction. He says : — 

" In 1842, when I was at Darjeeling, the Crimson Tragopan 
was to be met with between Pacheem and the Sungphul 
Mountain, along the road from Kutshing to the Sanitarium ; 
and a clever snap shot might bag one or two in the early part 
of the winter, during a foggy mizzly morning. It was neces- 
sary to proceed rapidly and noiselessly along the road, peeping 
warily down each watercourse that crosses the path, and shoots 
into the valley below. These gullies are shut in with the dense 



THE INDIAN CRIMSON TRAGOPAN. 141 

jungle that clothes the sides of the hills ; but here and there 
a rock stands out, leaving a small open space, and on this occa- 
sionally, at such an hour, and if no one else had haply passed 
that way, a Pheasant might be seen standing proudly upright, 
or snatching a hasty breakfast ere the growing day sent him 
to the valley below. If the birds were within shot (but, indeed, 
in such thick cover, to be within sight was to be within shot), the 
sportsman either then and there potted him, or, if in a more 
chivalrous mood, started him on the wing, and took him as he 
rose to clear the jungle. Sometimes the bird, especially if a 
hen, would, on catching sight of the sportsman, run into cover. 

"As before said, a snap pot, when the bird is first sighted on 
the ground, or a snap shot, as he rises through the bushes, is the 
sportsman's only chance. When a fine cock-bird shoots into 
the air, his inexpressibly rich plumage in clear relief against 
the snowy white mist of the valley far below is a splendid 
sight indeed ! The aim should be quick, and the charge heavy — 
of No. 1 or 2 — for if not killed at once, search for a wounded 
bird is almost always profitless toil ; and if it be only winged, 
pursuit is as vain as if it were missed altogether. Alas ! if 
missed, the unlucky wight sees the kaleidoscopic vision shoot 
like a ruby meteor down the dizzy depth below, across the 
misty valley to settle in the woods of some far distant hill — 
Eheu, nunquam revisura /" 



THE CRIMSON Tragopan breeds high up, at elevations of from 
9,000 to 12,000 feet, in the forests that lie below the snow, or in 
dense patches of the hill bamboo ; but I have never found the 
eggs myself, and my account is based on the statement of na- 
tives, from whom I received the only eggs I possess, which 
latter were taken in Kumaun in May. 

The eggs are much like large hens' eggs, perhaps rather 
more elongated and more compressed towards the small end. 
The shell is only moderately stout, and the surface is conspi- 
cuously pitted over with pores. In colour they are nearly white, 
having only a faint cafe an lait colour, and they are here and 
there very slightly freckled with a pale dull lilac. One egg 
is somewhat darker and entirely wants these markings. They 
have very little gloss. In length they vary from 2*54 to 2*62, 
and in breadth from 1*8 to r84 



NUMEROUS MALES, measured in the flesh, varied as follows : — 
Length, 26-5 to 28-5 ; expanse, 32*0 to 3475 ; wing, io*o to 

I0"6 ; tail from vent, I0"0 to H'5 ; tarsus, 3*25 to 375 ; bill 

from gape, 1-44 to 1*52. Weight (adults) 3ft»s. 8ozs. to 4ft>s. 

ioozs. 

In an adult male killed in May, the bill was blackish brown, 

paler at the tip ; the irides deep brown ; the legs and toes pale 



142 THE INDIAN CRIMSON TRAGOPAN. 

fleshy ; the claws brownish horny grey ; the upper throat and 
orbits fine purplish blue ; the gular wattle orange or salmon 
coloured, laterally with narrow transverse blue bars ; the horns 
bright lazuline blue ; 3*15 inches in length. (In February they 
would have been perhaps 1*25.) The spur 0*3 in length and 
greyish brown. In other males, I have noted the legs as fleshy 
grey, more or less tinted with crimson, the tint varying very 
much in intensity. An immature bird had the legs almost pure 
white. In some males the spurs are much longer, sharp and 
somewhat curved. 

Females, measured : — Length, 21*5 to 2375 ; expanse, 28*5 to 
30*0 ; wing, 8*5 to 9/0 ; tail from vent, 8 to 10 ; tarsus, 3*0 to 
3*25 ; bill from gape, 1*25 to 1*45. Weight, 2ibs. 4 ozs. to 2ft>s. 
ioozs. The legs brownish grey, more or less fleshy ; the bill 
dusky horny ; the irides brown ; the legs of the females have 
often a purplish tinge, and generally exhibit obsolete tubercles 
for spurs. 



The Plate only greatly errs in the colouration of the orbital 
region, and in showing no salmon colour on the wattle, which 
would be conspicuously visible, with the flap half distended as 
shown. But the tender grace of the delicate grey shading 
on the flanks of the male, the marvellous blending of colours 
on the wing, and the depth and richness of the tints of the 
female's plumage, which is a perfect poem without words, 
are all lost in the harsh staring chromo. 



%»<mjj 







Q_ 
LU 
O 
O 



Ld 

CD 

O 

01 
Ld 

O 



til VRtRRQ VMMMNUI. 



Ceriornis melanocephalus, Gray. 



Vernacular ITaiJICS- — [Jewar, Jowar, Garhwdl ; Jaghi, Jajhi, Bussahir ; Sing= 
monal (Hindustani), N. W. Himalayas ; Jigurana, Jeejurana (male), Bodal 
(female), Kullu, Mandi, Sukeyt ; Fulgoor (Pahari Hindi) Chamba.] 




HE Western Tragopan does not quite meet its eastern 
representative. Its eastern limit is the ridge be- 
tween the Kattor and Bhilling rivers, in native Garh- 
wal, and then for some four days' march you meet with 
neither species. In this interval, there are three high 
ridges to cross that divide the Bhilling Rand Valley 
from that of the Bangar Rand, this latter from the 
Mandagni Valley, and this latter again from that of the Alak- 
nanda. 

Westwards of the Kattor Bhilling ridge, it is the only 
species found in native Garhwal, and thence it extends west- 
wards along all the higher well-wooded ranges, as far, at any 
rate, as Kashmir.* 

It is many years since I shot this beautiful species, and it 
was then neither rare, nor, even in spring and summer, difficult 
to obtain with good dogs, in suitable localities, and these were 
forest-clad slopes, ridges and spurs of from eight to eleven 
thousand feet elevation adjoining or running down from higher 
snowy ridges. 

A recent writer, Baldwin, says that this " is by far the rarest 
of all our Hill Pheasants, and is now, from constantly being 
snared and shot, seldom met with, and then only in the most 
unfrequented valleys and regions hardly ever visited by sports- 
men. In fact, a hunter might wander for years together in our 
hills without once coming across the bird." 

Of course he might, if he did not know where to look for 
them, but from all the enquiries I have recently made, I believe 
there are plenty of Tragopans left, and that though they have been 
driven away from the immediate neighbourhood of our large 
Hill Stations,-)* there are enormous tracts in which they are 
just as plentiful as when I was a boy. 

* How far it extends in Kashmir is uncertain. Biddulph writes that he has not 
yet seen it west of the Indus, but it certainly occurs in Hazara. 

t Up to within 15 or 20 years ago, one or two used to be shot every winter on 
Jakko, the central hill of Simla, which is very little over 8,000 feet elevation. 



144 THE WESTERN TRAGOPAN. 

They were, and always will be, during the warmer seasons of the 
year (they are much tamer I know in winter) rather wild and 
shy, given to skulking, and hard to flush, unless by accident 
you come suddenly upon them. In no place did I ever find 
them numerous as the Moonal often is ; but, though scattered 
widely, there were, and the most reliable sportsmen tell me that 
there still are, plenty of them, if they are looked for in suit- 
able places, in the right way and with good dogs. To go after 
Tragopans in summer without these latter, is much like going 
fishing without hooks. 

Writing from Kullu recently, Mr. Young remarks : — 

" This is, of all the Indian Pheasants, perhaps the one most 
easily reared in captivity. Its habitat is much the same as 
that of the Moonal, though its zone of distribution descends 
to a somewhat lower altitude. Its favourite food is the berry 
of an evergreen plant called in Kullu Dekha ; it is, I believe, a 
species of Carunda. 

" I have always found this bird much easier to shoot than 
the Moonal ; when put up by dogs, I have known a dozen or 
so fly up into the surrounding trees, uttering their curious 
call, something between a kid's bleat and the cry of a wild 
goose. 

" Once in the trees, they never offered to move, but sat 
stupidly staring at the dogs, whilst I picked them off one by 
one. This, however, was only early in the season ; later they get 
wiser, and are very wild, going off a long distance after the 
first couple of shots. 

" I have not unfrequently seen this bird in company with the 
Moonal in the summer months, when I have often found them 
together in the grassy patches in the higher forests, a small 
company of a dozen or so of each species, and more rarely one 
or two Cheer." 

It is only in out-of-the-way places that they are thus tame, 
and I cannot myself say that I have ever found them feeding 
out in the open; but the habits of all these birds do vary a 
good deal according to locality, and I quote the above for com- 
parison with Wilson's old note, which, as in many other cases, 
still gives, to my fancy, the best and most exhaustive account 
of the habits of this species : — 

" Except where an isolated village is situate high up in a 
densely-wooded locality and surrounded by thick forest, the 
Jewar is seldom or never found near the habitations of man, but 
frequents the darkest and most solitary parts of the woods, 
where it is not often subject to disturbance ; and keeps so still 
and secluded in their shady recesses, that not one in twenty of 
the inhabitants of the nearest villages ever see one, except when 
caught or killed by a shikari. 

" In autumn and winter its haunts are in the thickest parts 
of the forests of oak, chestnut and morenda pine, where the 



THE WESTERN TRAGOPAN. 145 

box tree is abundant, and where, under the forest-trees, a 
luxuriant growth of ' ringaV, or hill bamboo, forms an 
underwood in some places almost impenetrable. 

11 They keep in companies of from two or three to ten or a 
dozen, not in compact flocks, but scattered widely over a 
considerable space of forest, so that many at times get quite 
separated, and are found alone. 

"In places where seldom disturbed, the whole lot are some- 
times found within a compass of twenty or thirty yards, while, 
where often subject to intrusion, they get scattered and keep 
in ones and twos in different quarters of the forest, but if left 
undisturbed for a week or two, they will again collect together. 
They seldom forsake entirely a regular resort, however much 
disturbed, but get so shy and wary that it is very difficult to 
find, and almost impossible to shoot them. Here they pass 
the winter months, seldom wandering away from the particular 
quarter they have chosen for a resort, which they return to year 
after year ; and while there located, if not disturbed, never 
leave it to any distance, though many other parts of the wood 
are exactly of the same character. 

" If several lots are in the forest, each lot appear to have 
their own favourite quarter, and never intermingle with the 
others. 

" The trees furnishing them with a sufficiency of food, 
though the ground be covered with snow many feet in depth, 
the severest storms of winter do not, speaking of the species 
generally, cause them to change their locality. After a severe 
fall of snow, a few occasionally leave for a time their usual 
haunts, if in a very bleak quarter, or at any considerable 
elevation, and are found in places widely differing, as small 
patches of forest on a bare exposed hill side, narrow wooded 
ravines, patches of low brushwood and jungle, and anywhere 
where the ground is sheltered from the sun by trees and bushes. 
Sometimes one is found in a similar situation in fine weather, 
probably driven out of its retreat by an Eagle* or Falcon ; but 
these are rare exceptions, and they soon again return to their 
regular resorts. 

" At this season, except its note of alarm when disturbed, the 
Jewar is altogether mute, and is never heard of its own accord 
to utter a note or call of any kind, unlike the rest of our 
Pheasants, all of which occasionally crow or call at all seasons. 
When alarmed, it utters a succession of wailing cries, not unlike 
those of a young lamb or kid, like the syllables ' waa, waa, waa' 
each syllable uttered slowly and distinctly at first, and more 
rapidly as the bird is hard pressed or about to take wing. 

" Where not repeatedly disturbed, it is not particularly 
shy, and seldom takes alarm till a person is in its immediate 

* The Nepal Hawk- Eagle, Limnaetus nipalemis, is an inveterate foe to both 
species of Tragopan and to the Moonal. 

19 



146 THE WESTERN TRAGOPAN. 

vicinity, when it creeps slowly through the underwood or flies 
up into a tree, in the former case continuing its call until it 
is again stationary, and in the latter, till it has concealed 
itself in the branches. If several are together, all begin 
to call at once, and run off in different directions, some 
mounting into the trees, others running along the ground. 

" When first put up, they often alight in one of the nearest 
trees ; but if again flushed, the second flight is generally to some 
distance, and almost always down hill. Their flight is rapid, 
the whirr peculiar, and, even when the bird is not seen, may be 
distinguished by the sound from that of any other. 

" Where their haunts are often visited, either by the sportsmen 
or the villagers, they are more wary ; and if such visits are of 
regular occurrence, and continued for any length of time, they 
become so in a very high degree, so much so that it is impossible 
to conceive a forest bird more shy or cunning. They then, as 
soon as aware of the presence of any one in the forest, after 
calling once or twice, or without doing so at all, fly up into 
the trees (which, near their haunts, are almost all evergreens of 
the densest foliage), and conceal themselves so artfully in the 
tangled leaves and branches that, unless one has been seen to 
fly into a particular tree, and it has been well marked down, it 
is almost impossible to find any of them. 

" In spring, as the snow begins to melt on the higher parts of 
the hill, they leave entirely their winter resorts, and gradually 
separate and spread themselves through the more remote and 
distant woods, up to the region of birch and white rhododen- 
dron, and almost up to the extreme limits of forest. 

" Early in April they begin to pair ; and the males are then 
more generally met with than at any other period ; they seem 
to wander about a great deal, are almost always found alone, 
and often call at intervals all day long. When thus calling, the 
bird is generally perched on the thick branch of a tree, or the 
trunk of one which has fallen to the ground, or on a large 
stone. The call is similar to the one they utter when disturbed, 
but is much louder, and only one single note at a time, a loud 
energetic ' waal not unlike the bleating of a lost goat, and may 
be heard for upwards of a mile. It is uttered at various 
intervals, sometimes at every five or ten minutes for hours to- 
gether, and sometimes not more than two or three times 
during the day, and most probably to invite the females to the 
spot. 

" When the business of incubation is over, each brood, with 
the parent birds, keep collected together about one spot, and 
descend towards their winter resorts as the season advances ; 
but the forests are so densely crowded with long weeds and 
grass, that they are seldom seen till about November, when 
it has partially decayed, and admits of a view through the 
wood. 



THE WESTERN TRAGOPAN. 1 47 

" They feed chiefly on the leaves of trees and shrubs ; of the 
former, the box and oak are the principal ones ; of the latter, 
ringal and a shrub something like privet. They also eat roots, 
flowers, grubs and insects, acorns and seeds, and berries of various 
kinds, but in a small proportion compared with leaves. In 
confinement they will eat almost any kind of grain. 

" Though the most solitary of our Pheasants, and in their 
native forests perhaps the shyest, they are the most easily 
reconciled to confinement ; even when caught old they soon 
lose their timidity, eating readily out of the hand ; and little 
difficulty is experienced in rearing them. 

" The sportsman desirous of getting the Jeivar should endea- 
vour to learn from the shikaris and people of the place whether 
any are to be found in the neighbourhood before he commences 
what may otherwise prove a toilsome and unsuccessful search. 
You may hunt over very likely forests without finding a single 
bird, and without previous information there is nothing for it but 
to work through every part of the wood. In autumn and winter, 
having learnt that the birds are about, he should proceed to some 
well-wooded locality, and after taking a survey of the general 
aspect of the forest, direct his way to some well-wooded ravine 
or hollow, where the tapering summits of the morenda pine may 
be seen towering above the rest of the forest trees, and the 
dense and closely-wooded character of the forest shuts out from 
a distance all view of the ground. 

" Dogs are not necessary, but can do no harm if properly 
under control. 

" Should he pass near a spot where any of the birds are, he 
will soon be made aware of their vicinity by their peculiar 
call, which they will invariably utter on his approach. 

" If they begin calling while he is at a distance, or the under- 
wood prevents their being seen, though near, he should press 
on them as quickly as possible, and endeavour to force them 
to rise, or try and get a shot while one is passing over some 
exposed spot, before they conceal themselves, in which they have 
few equals. If they fly into the trees, the particular tree into 
which one has flown, must be well marked down, and, if possible, 
the particular part, or it will be difficult to find it. From the 
thick and tangled character of the woods where they generally 
resort, crowded and entangled with multitudinous trunks and 
arms of trees, and dense clusters of tall ringal, it is seldom a 
fair shot can be got at them on the wing, and the only alterna- 
tive is to shoot them in what some will perhaps deem an unsports- 
manlike way, on the ground, or in the trees. 

" A lot once found in any part of the forest, they may, to a 
certainty, be found again daily at the same spot, or in its imme- 
diate vicinity, but each day they will become more shy and 
wary, and it is useless to hunt for them on the same ground 
many days successively, as, after being disturbed once or twice, 



I48 THE WESTERN TRAGOPAN. 

it will be next to impossible to get a shot, though many birds 
may be found. They will be scattered singly in widely dis- 
tant places ; some will keep in the trees altogether, one now and 
then flying off close above the sportsman's head, but so suddenly 
and rapidly as to leave little chance off his getting a shot at it ; 
and many, as soon as aware of the sportsman's presence in the 
wood, will, without waiting for his approach, conceal them- 
selves so artfully as to leave only a bare possibility of his ever 
finding them. 

" Even if the particular tree into which one has been seen 
to fly is immediately approached, one may stand for an hour 
under it, and examine almost every leaf and branch without 
being able to discover the bird, and should one even succeed in 
doing this, one is still too often disappointed in getting a shot, as 
they seem to keep their eye fixed on your movements, and to 
become aware of the very moment they are discovered, darting 
off before the gun can be put to the shoulder. 

" In spring, which is the season most generally chosen by the 
sportsman for excursions in the interior, he will have a better 
chance of finding them than in autumn, as then they are not 
so restricted in their resorts, but are distributed all over the 
forests, and the males do not so much covet concealment, 
They should now be sought for in the higher parts of the 
forest, where the birch tree begins to make its appearance, and it 
is advisable to sit and listen at intervals for their call. On hearing 
it, the sportsman should proceed as quickly and noiselessly as 
possible to the quarter from whence the sound proceeded, listen- 
ing at times for a repetition of the call to guide him to the 
exact spot. The bird will generally be found on some exposed 
spot where a nice pot shot (oh !) may be had. Great caution 
must be taken, particularly when getting near, as, if once dis- 
turbed, there is little chance of finding the bird again that day. 

" The Jewar roosts in trees, and in winter, perhaps for warmth, 
seems to prefer the low evergreens, with closely-interwoven 
leaves and branches, to the larger trees which overshadow them." 

THE ONLY eggs of the Western Tragopan that I have yet seen 
are six sent to me by Captain Unwin from Hazara, which 
were taken on the 25th May 1869 by Captain Lautour, who com- 
municated to him the following note : — 

" I was shooting on a range of hills from 8,000 to 1 1,000 feet 
high. The Argus in parts very plentiful, the hills covered with 
pine forests, and the Argus I used to find about one-fourth of 
the height of the hill from the top, and they appeared to affect 
the vicinity and edges of snow nallas and landslips, where 
there was a fair quantity of undergrowth, and where there were 
plenty of rocks. 

" At the time of finding the nest, I was on the look-out for 
Pheasants, but the ground being rather stiff, I had just given up 



THE WESTERN TR AG OP AN, 1 49 

my gun to the shikari, when the bird got up almost at my feet. 
I was going through a pine forest, and had reached a place 
where an avalanche or landslip had carried away all the pine 
trees, and in their place, small bushes and shrubs, resembling the 
hazel, had sprung up. I was descending into this, when the bird 
got up, as I said before, almost at my feet. The nest was on 
the ground, and was very roughly formed of grass, small sticks, 
and a very few feathers ; it was very carelessly built. More I did 
not observe, as the bird, having gone down close, I wanted to 
shoot it. 

" I did not succeed in doin? this, but from the close view I 
had of it, and the attention I have since paid to all our Phea- 
sants, I have no doubt the bird was a hen Argus." 

Indian sportsman always miscall this species, and the previous 
one, " The Argus." I may add that there is no earthly doubt 
of the correctness of the identification, as there is absolutely no 
other bird in the Western Himalayas that could have laid these 
eggs. 

The eggs are more or less elongated ovals, considerably com- 
pressed towards the small end. They are, as a whole, of very 
much the same length, but a good deal slenderer than the eggs 
of the Moonal. The shell is fine, but almost absolutely devoid 
of gloss. Looked at from a little distance, they appear to be 
of a uniform colour and devoid of markings, and seem to vary 
from a pale cafe an lait to a dull reddish buff; looked into 
closely they appear to have a somewhat lighter ground colour, 
excessively finely and minutely freckled and spotted with a 
somewhat darker shade. They are the least glossy of all the 
true game birds' eggs that I know, and in shape and texture, 
though not in tint, remind one not a little of those of the King 
Curlew and White Ibis, and other birds of that family. 

In length they vary from 2*4 to 2*55, and in breadth from 
i'68 to 172 ; but the average of the six eggs is 2*51 by 1*7. 

I HAVE unfortunately lost my paper of measurements, &c, of 
this species. The following are chiefly from Wilson : — 

Males. — Length, 27 to 29; expanse, 37; wing, 11*25; tail, 
I0'5 to 11 ; tarsus, 3. Weight, 4*5lbs. Bill blackish ; irides hazel 
brown ; naked skin round the eye bright red, two fleshy horns 
about an inch and a half long, sky blue ; the gular wattle purple 
in the middle, fleshy on the sides, spotted and edged with pale 
blue ; legs and feet pale flesh colour, approaching to white. 

I, however, distinctly remember that the horns had sometimes 
a very greenish tinge ; that there were some blue markings on the 
face below the eye, and that the pinky portion of the throat 
lappet was, in some cases at any rate, a vivid salmon pink. 
The legs, too, become much redder during the breeding season. 

In the cold weather, the horns and lappet shrivel up to 
nothing, and can barely be traced, and even in the summer it 



150 THE WESTERN TRAGOPAN. 

is only when the bird is more or less excited that the horns 
are raised, or the apron-like lappet extended. Both are of course 
absent in females, which, moreover, have no naked skin round 
the eye. 

Females. — Length, 24 ; expanse, 32 ; wing, 10 ; tail 9. Legs 
and feet greyish ashy. 

Wilson says : — " The young male for the first year is scarcely 
to be distinguished from the female ; the second, the red fea- 
thers on the neck and throat and the white spots begin to make 
their appearance ; the third, he gets the handsome plumage of 
the adult males. The flesh is tender and well flavoured." 

As to this last, tastes differ ; I should say that they were, 
as a rule, much like a common village fowl ; no better, and often 
a good deal worse. 



The Plate, though really very good in other respects, has the 
legs of the female wrongly coloured, the eye piece of the male too 
pink, the bill too light coloured, and omits the blue edgings and 
markings on the lateral portions of the gular apron. 

Some females are coloured nearly as in the plate, but the 
majority are altogether greyer. 








Fi 



\ 



CERIORNIS BLYTHI 



TO1 IMY-iEUIBI fill 



Ceriornis blythi, Jerdon, 



Vernacular ITasaiCS. — [Hurr-hurrea, (Assamese) ; Soonsooria, (Golden bird ? ; 
Bengali) ; Gnu, (Angami Naga), Naga Hills]. 




ERY little is known of the habits or area of distri- 
bution of this species, which I, for one, have never 
seen alive. 

In 1869 Dr. Jerdon, when in Assam, obtained a 
skin brought down to Sadiya at the head of the 
Assam Valley by some of the Mishmi tribes, in 
whose hills it is believed to occur. 
Dr. Jerdon told me that an intelligent Assamese official, who 
was a good sportsman, assured him that he knew the bird well, 
and that it was found in winter at a comparatively low level 
in the extreme eastern portions of the Province. Several living 
examples were also, I learn, brought down about the same time, 
and one of these, which was living in Major Montagu's posses- 
sion, was obtained by Dr. Jerdon for the Zoo, and duly sent home 
thither, where, for some time at any rate, it lived. 

The latest published intelligence of this species is by Major 
Godwin-Austen, who says : — 

" This bird is very difficult to obtain, and I failed to get the 
female, which has never yet been seen by any European. I 
heard them in the forest on the ascent to Khunho, but although 
I offered Rs. 20 for a bird, the Nagas only once succeeded in 
getting one ; this, a male, was snared near the village of 
Viswemah, but thinking that I wanted the feathers only, the 
natives had, to my utter disgust, picked and eaten it. Another 
male was brought to Captain Butler, the Political Agent of 
the Naga Hills, when passing through the village of Jotsomali 
(also under the Burrail range), but it had been skinned so badly 
that it was falling all to pieces, and the most we could do was 
to save a few of the better pieces of the skin for the sake of 
the feathers. The Burrail range is the extreme western limit 
of this bird, and it has not been got even there west of the 
Peak of Paona, where the specimen in my collection was 
obtained. Its haunts are in the dense forests from 6,000 to 
10,000 feet, and this renders it such a difficult bird to bag, and 
the only chance of shooting a specimen would be by coming 
upon it suddenly along a more open bit of ridge, or in one of 
the higher clearings. It was unknown to the Nagas of Asalu." 



1 52 THE GREY-BELLIED TRAGOPAN. 

Mr. G. Damant now writes to me : — 

" This bird is found on most of the high ranges in the Naga 
Hills, notably on the Burrail range, near the villages of Kohima, 
Khenomah and Mozemah. 

" It is a permanent resident, and does not appear to migrate. 

" It is found on the highest peaks (which attain an altitude of 
9,000 feet in the Burrail range) and probably never descends to 
a lower elevation than 5,000 feet. It is said to breed in the 
month of April, and to lay three or four eggs. 

" During the cold weather it is found at lower elevations than 
in the rains, as it descends as the mountain springs dry up. 

" It appears to be generally distributed, but is not very 
common. Two live examples, now in my possession, eat worms 
and a kind of red berry very greedily. So far as I have 
observed, it has only one note resembling the syllable ' ak.' 

" The Nagas catch these birds by laying a line of snares 
across a ravine which they are known to frequent, and then, with 
a large semi-circle of beaters, driving the birds down to them. 
They go as quietly as possible so as not to frighten the birds 
sufficiently to make them take flight, as, if not much alarmed, 
they prefer running." 

We may conclude that it occurs throughout the higher ranges 
of the Assamese Hills, south of the Brahmaputra and east- 
wards of the Burrail range, and it probably extends, both 
eastwards and southwards of this, far into foreign territory. 



This species in the breeding season, and when fully adult, 
exhibits the horn-like wattles, and also the pendant gular 
apron, characteristic of the genus, as one of my specimens shows. 

Mr. Damant informs me that in life one of the males he 
sent me had horns three-quarters of an inch in length, and of a 
bright azure blue. 

According to notes furnished to me by Dr. Jerdon, recorded 
from the type, an apparently adult male, before he skinned it, 
the chin and upper portion of the throat and the orbital region, 
which are bare, are yellow, here and there tinged greenish ; the 
bill greenish horny ; the legs and feet dull yellowish horny ; and 
the irides pale brown. 

Not improbably these colours may vary according to sex, age, 
and season ; in the skin of a very fine male both lappets and 
face appear to have been blue, and the legs and feet were cer- 
tainly red. 

Dimensions of Adult Males from dried skins. — Length, 2i'o to 
23*0 ; wings, 10*25 to 1075 ; tarsus, 3*0 to 3*5 ; mid-toe, 2*3 to 
2'5 ; its claw, straight, 0"8 to 0*9 ; spur, about 0'6 ; bill at front 
from base of frontal plumes, i*o to i'i ; corneous portion only, 
o*55 ; from gape, 1*3 to 1*4 ; from end of bare gular skin to tip 
of lower mandible, 2*3 to 2*9. 



(Slip to face page l$2.) 



Since the text was printed off, Mr. Dam ant writes giving me 
the colours of the soft parts in live birds of both sexes of the 
Gray-bellied Tragopan in June : — 

" Male. — Irides deep brown ; orbital skin orange ; horns 
azure ; lappets brimstone, tinged with blue ; legs and feet light 
brown, tinged pink. 

" Female. — Orbital skin light brown ; no horns or lappets ; 
rest as in male. 



THE GREY-BELLIED TRAGOPAN. 



3D 



One fine male before me has two spurs on the same level on 
one leg. I presume this to be a purely accidental monstrosity. 

The female is considerably smaller. 

Length, i8 # o to 20'0 ; wing, 8*5 to p/o ; tarsus, 2-9 to 3*1; 
mid- toe, 2*2 ; its claw, straight, 07 ; bill from frontal feathers 
straight to point, 0*98 ; from gape, i'4. 



The Plate. — A copy, I believe, of one of Mr. Wolff's, appears 
to represent tolerably the adult male. The general tone, how- 
ever, of the mantle, rump and upper tail-coverts is not dark 
enough, and the red that enters largely into the colouration of 
these parts is really a rich maroon. I doubt also the correctness 
of the colouration of the face and gular skin. 

When our plate was prepared, the female, recently procured 
for me, together with adult and young males, by Mr. G. Damant, 
C.S., was still unknown, and it is necessary, therefore, to de- 
scribe her. 

In the female, the ground of the entire mantle is black, 
each feather very finely, almost microscopically, freckled, chiefly 
along a broad central band with more or less rufous buff, and 
with one large, irregular zig-zaggy, somewhat arrowhead-shaped, 
spot towards the tip ; in connection with this spot one or more 
irregular wavy bars generally go off right and left towards, or to 
the margins of feathers, which bars are often more ferruginous 
than the rest of the markings : these spots are most conspicuous 
on the interscapulary region, and almost disappear on the rump 
and upper tail-coverts, where the frecklings, on the other hand, 
extend over nearly the whole feather ; the tail is blackish brown, 
thickly set with irregular, mottled, wavy transverse bars of 
ferruginous and ferruginous buff; the longest upper tail-coverts 
partake of the deep ferruginous tint of the tail markings ; the 
primaries and secondaries much like the tail, but the ground a 
shade browner, and the markings less thickly set and nearly 
confined to the outer webs ; the coverts and tertiaries partake 
of the characters of the mantle, as do the head and back of 
the neck, though in both these latter the markings are more 
bar-like and much less conspicuous. 

The chin and upper throat are greyish creamy ; the feathers 
margined with greyish brown, and with traces of a spot of this 
running in almost to the shaft, about half way up the feather ; 
the rest of the front and sides of the neck and upper-breast 
in much the same style as the back of the neck and mantle, 
but the ground brown, the frecklings duller in colour and more 
diffuse, and the spot only indicated. 

The rest of the breast and the abdomen a sort of greyish 
creamy, thickly set with freckly, imperfect bar-like brown 
markings, having a tendency to mark out and define plain 
patches or spots of the ground colour, towards the tips of the 
feathers, analogous to the spots on the upper surface. 

20 



154 THE GREY-BELLIED TRAGOPAN. 

The tibial plumes and some of the vent feathers regularly 
and closely barred hair-brown and dull buff ; the lower tail- 
coverts brown, rather dark on the terminal one-third, where 
they are freckled and blotched with ferruginous buff, and with 
a more or less conspicuous oval, purer buff spot or drop just 
at the tip. 

The lower surface of the quills and their greater lower 
coverts grey brown, with a few pale buff spots or markings on 
the inner webs at or towards their margins ; the rest of the 
wing-lining deep brown, profusely spotted with ferruginous buff. 

From the female of melanocephalus it is at once distinguish- 
ed by the black and buff of the upper surface, so much richer 
and darker in tone ; altogether different from the comparatively 
grey upper surface of melanocephalus. From the female of 
satyra it equally differs ; on the upper surface it is blacker 
and less ferruginous ; on the lower surface it is paler and 
wholly wants the warm ferruginous buff of that species, which 
in the present is replaced by greyish creamy. After they have 
once been seen, unlike the females of the Gallophasis section of 
the Euplocami, the females of the several species of Ceriomis 
can be as easily recognized as the males. 

The young males show the transition from the female to the 
male plumage, just as do those of melanocephalus and satyra. 



Two OTHER species of this superb genus are known, C. tem- 
mincki, The Chinese Crimson Tragopan from Western and 
South-Western China, and C. caboti, the Buffy Tragopan, 
from South-Eastern China. 



N^i 




;■ Waller, liLh.l8,Hattou G-axAe] 



ITHAGINIS CRUENTiS 



«at« 



Ithagenes cruentus, Hardwicke. 



Vernacular Names. — [Chilmeah, Chilme (Parbutteah), Srimen, Selmung 
(Bhutia), Nepal ; Same, Semo, (Bhutia), Soomong pho (Lepcha), Sikhim.] 




HE exact area of distribution of this species is still 
quite unknown. According to Hodgson's notes it 
is found in the higher regions, far north of the 
Great Valley, throughout the whole length of Nepal, 
but I doubt if it really extends to the western 
portions, as it is unknown to the hunters of even 
the extreme eastern portions of Upper Kumaun. It 

occurs undoubtedly throughout native Sikhim, and occurs in 

the western portions of Bhutan. It very likely extends in 

suitable localities much further east. 

Northwards it is replaced in Eastern Thibet and Sechuen 

by /. geoffroyi, and further north again by /. sinensis, both 

nearly allied and similar species. 



I HAVE never myself had the luck to shoot the Blood Pheasant, 
but the following unpublished notes of Mr. Hodgson give some 
idea of the bird's habits : — 

" This species is common in Nepal in flocks of 20 to 30, 
in the same situations as the Moonal ; that is to say in the higher 
forests and in the immediate neighbourhood of the snow, even 
outside though always near the forests. 

" They greatly affect the clumps of Mountain Bamboo, and 
feed about on the ground amongst these much like domestic 
fowls, turning over the leaves and grasses with their feet, 
scratching about in the ground, and picking up insects, grass, 
seeds, grain, and wild fruits. 

" They do not eat the bulbous roots of which the Moonal 
is so fond. On any alarm the whole flock utter a sharp alarm- 
note (ship, ship) and scuttle away. 

" In the winter the birds come southward a little, but never ap- 
proach the Great Valley. Numbers are caught in November and 
December, and in their own haunts they are by no means rare. 
Packs are often seen consisting of as many as 70 to 100 birds. 
They ascend and descend with the snow, and are easily captured, 
being fearless and stupid. They prefer somewhat inaccessible 
places. Their flight is short and feeble. 



156 THE BLOOD PHEASANT. 

" Adult males have often three spurs on each leg, and natives 
say that they are sometimes found with as many as five." 

Dr. Hooker remarks : — 

u This, the boldest of the Alpine birds of its kind, frequents 
the mountain ranges of Eastern Nepal and Sikhim at an eleva- 
tion varying from 1 0,000 to 14,000 feet, and is very abundant 
in many of the valleys among the forests of pine (Abies web- 
biand) and juniper. It seldom or never crows, but emits a weak 
cackling noise. When put up, it takes a very short flight, and 
then runs to shelter. During winter it appears to burrow under 
or in holes amongst the snow ; for I have snared it in January 
in regions thickly covered with snow, at an altitude of 12,000 
feet. I have seen the young in May. The principal food of the 
bird consists of the tops of the pine and juniper in spring, and 
the berries of the latter in autumn and winter ; its flesh has 
always a very strong flavour, and is moreover uncommonly 
tough ; it, however, was the only bird I obtained at those great 
elevations in tolerable abundance for food, and that not very 
frequently. The Bhutias say that it acquires an additional spur 
every year ; certain it is that they are more numerous than in 
any other bird, and that they are not alike on both legs. I 
could not discover the cause of this difference ; neither could 
I learn if they were produced at different times. I believe that 
five on one leg, and four on the other, is the greatest number 
I have observed." 

Dr. Jerdon, writing to Mr. Elliot, said : — " The only time that 
I have myself seen the Ithagenes was in September 1868, on a 
trip to the Singhaleela Range, west of Darjeeling. This is a 
lofty spur that runs south from Kinchinjunga, ending in Mount 
Tonglo, 10,000 feet. At about 12,000 to 13,000 feet a covey 
of these beautiful birds crossed the mountain-path I was as- 
cending ; and quickly calling for my gun, I knocked one or 
two over on the ground. Only one bird rose on the wing after 
I fired ; and it settled down again almost immediately, the 
rest escaping by running into the underwood in the forest. A 
native Shikari followed them up, and succeeded in securing 
three or four more of the family. The young were nearly 
half-grown, and the cock birds were clothed in the adult male 
plumage, not so bright or well-marked of course as an old bird. 
The bill of the female is dull reddish at tip, and chestnut at the 
base ; the nude orbital skin in the male rich blood-red, and 
the irides red brown, the bill being dusky or black at the tip. 
I see in Hodgson's drawing of this bird that the bill of the 
female is rightly given red. I could not notice exactly how the 
tails were held, except that they were certainly raised whilst 
running. The food of those examined consisted entirely of 
vegetable matter. The skins of this beautiful bird previously 
brought into Darjeeling have all been procured at a consider- 
able distance in the interior of Sikhim ; and I was rather. 



THE BLOOD PHEASANT. I $7 

surprised to find them here in such a damp climate and so near 
the plains ; but as the Singhaleela spur is higher than any other 
range running south, I fancy they have gradually spread along 
the ridge as far as it continued suitably elavated." 

Hodgson remarks of live birds that he had : — " They have an 
erect Galline carriage, but the tail is carried low and descending." 

Mr. William Blanford says, in his notes on the Zoology of 
Sikhim : — 

" Not rare on the Chola Range, but more common in the pine 
forests of the Lachung Valley. I shot it only in the latter, in 
September, in flocks of 10 to 15 birds, males and females, in 
about equal proportions, and the young birds of the year in the 
same plumage as the old ones, but easily distinguished by the 
absence of spurs on their legs. The old birds had recently 
moulted, and their tails were not full grown. 

" All that I saw were in the pine forests around Yeomatong, 
where they were tolerably abundant. They rarely take flight 
even when fired at, but run away and often take refuge on 
branches of trees. I have shot five or six out of one flock by 
following them up ; they usually escape up hill, and if, as fre- 
quently takes place, the flock has been scattered, after a few 
minutes they commence calling with a peculiar long cry, some- 
thing like the squeal of a kite. The only other note I heard 
was a short monosyllabic note of alarm ; I have heard a 
bird utter this when sitting on a branch within twenty yards 
of me. 

" In their crops I found small fruits, leaves, seeds, and in one 
instance what appeared to me to be the spore cases of a moss ; 
there were no leaves or berries of juniper, and the birds were 
excellent eating. We did not notice the unpleasant flavour 
mentioned by Hooker, probably because better food is abundant 
at the season when we shot our birds, and they consequently 
do not then feed upon pine or juniper." 



Of THEIR nidification nothing is accurately known. Mr. 
Hodgson says in his notes, obviously on the faith of native 
informants : — 

" The nest is placed on the ground amongst the grass and 
bushes, a loose nest of grass and leaves. The eggs, 10 to 12 
in number, are laid towards the end of April and in May, and 
the young are ready to fly in July. 

14 Only the mother feeds and cares for the young." 



The FOLLOWING are dimensions recorded in the flesh by Mr 
Hodgson : — 

Adult Males.— Length, 1775 to 19-5 ; expanse, 22-5 to 26*0; 
wing, 8-0 to 9-0 ; tail, 6'5 to 7*0 ; tarsus, 275 to 3*0 ; bill, 0*81 to 
0*87. Weight; lib 1 oz. to ifb 4 ozs. 



158 THE BLOOD PHEASANT. 

Cere, gape, and palate intense coral red to crimson ; orbital 
skin scarlet to orange vermilion ; bill black ; iris red brown ; in 
others pale clear hazel ; legs and spurs like the cere, crimson ; 
claws dusky. 

Female. — Length, 16-5 to 17*0; expanse, 2ro to 23*0 ; wing, 
7*62 ; tail, 5*5 to 6*o ; tarsus, 2*6 to 275 ; bill, 0'8 to 0-9. Weight, 
12 ozs. to lib 1 oz. 

Bill black ; cere and orbital skin yellow carmine ; legs intense 
carmine ; claws dusky ; iris brown. 

Dr. Jerdon is apparently wrong in his remark, above quoted, 
that the bill of the adult female is red, for Mr. Hodgson says : — 
" One specimen that I obtained in September, and which was by 
dissection a female, showed the anomaly of a deep coraline 
red bill. Later, I got other specimens showing the same pecu- 
liarity ; all these had the cheeks fleshy grey. It is evident to me 
that the red bill is a sign of nonage, and that it becomes 
gradually black." 

It is just possible, however, that the change in the colour of the 
bill may be seasonal ; anyhow all Mr. Hodgson's females 
obtained in April and May had black bills. 

Very young birds have the bill, legs, and cere a dirty grey, 
and the eye piece fleshy grey, with a faint crimson tinge. 

The spurs of the male are not assumed the first year I think, 
as I have received some specimens, males, in perfect plumage 
apparently, exhibiting no trace of any spur. I have never seen 
more than four spurs on one leg in any specimen. 



The Plate conveys, I believe, a good idea of the species. 



^t^-4 7 



TO1 kMUSfc 

Pucrasia maerolopha, Lesson. 



V6£H&CUl&r ITaiJlQS-— [Phoktass, Bhote Parganas of Kuniann and Garhwdl ; 
Koklass, Kokla, Almora to Simla ; Koak, (Pahari Hindi,) Kullu, Mandi ; Plas, 
Kashmir.] 







,OKLASS, which it is now usual to treat as belonging 
to three distinct species, extend in the Himalayas 
from the central northern, and north-western por- 
tions of Nepal to Kafiristan. 

Of these three supposed species I shall say more 
when dealing with P. nipalensis. At present we are 
only concerned with typical Pucrasia macrolopha, 
which may be said to extend from the centre of Kumaun, or at 
any rate the eastern portions of British Garhwal, as far as 
the westernmost portions of Kashmir, though westwards of 
Simla it is comparatively scarce. 



Of ALL OUR Hill Pheasants, the Koklass is the best eating, and 
affords the best sport. Other people's experience appears to be 
different, as will be seen from passages that I shall quote further 
on, but I have always found them in the latter part of the 
autumn in large coveys, and not unfrequently several coveys 
on one hill side. I have found them lay well, and rise and go 
off superbly, and I would rather have a good day after Koklass 
in the middle of November, in some little-wooded saucer- 
like valley or depression at 7,000 or 8,000 feet in the Himalayas, 
where too or three coveys have been marked by one's shikaris, 
than after any other bird in any other place. 

The spot for Koklass is either some depression, such as I have 
mentioned, or some place in a gorge where a horizontal plateau 
is thrown out inside the gorge. 

There is an oval cup-shaped valley near the top of Nagtiber 
behind Mussooree, which used, in old days, to be a sure find for 
Koklass in October and November. In and about this, I, one 
November morning, put up no less than three coveys, aggre- 
gating, I suppose, over twenty birds ; the young ones looking 
quite as large, though not weighing quite so much as the old 
ones. I killed five within a circle of a hundred yards, and I 
then, during the rest of the day, got seven more about the slopes 
of that hill, besides two Moonal, a Cheer, a Woodcock, several 



l6o . THE KOKLASS. 

Hill Partridges (A. torqiieola), four Chikore (of which I knocked 
three over on the ground with one shot as they scuttled away) 
on a bare grassy spur, on which a few fields had been, and 
lastly a Barking Deer. 

With other Pheasants, except perhaps the Cheer, it has always 
seemed to me so much more a matter of chance ; with Koklass, 
if your men have marked them one day, you will find them 
next day, at the same hour (for they move up and down the 
hill a great deal during the day), in precisely the same spot, if 
they have not been previously molested. The birds, though they 
separate in all directions, do not go far, and do not run much 
after they alight. 

And here I would remark that, unless you are a man of iron, 
such as my old friend Wilson was, able to walk 40 or 50 miles up 
and down without fatigue, and able to go up hill just as well 
as down hill, it is all nonsense going Pheasant-shooting in the 
Himalayas without the necessary aids and in the proper 
manner. 

You must have good dogs (small cockers are best), thorough- 
ly under control, who will work exactly to command, and obey 
the whistle, and you must have a number of intelligent hill 
men, something of sportsmen themselves, to search out the 
shooting grounds, and when you are shooting, mark the birds 
that get away from well-chosen posts. I used to have four 
dogs and over a dozen men. 

Lastly, you must go in for small game as your object, and not 
humbug after big game. If a Kakur jumps up in the grass 
before you, roll him over with shot. Have a rifle along with 
you, and if in beating a gloomy ravine for Hill Partridges an 
old Sarrow, or a precipitous " dang" or cliff for Cheer, a Gooral 
or two break, do your best with them, and if when hi^h up 
after Moonal or Tragopan or Snow Cock, a Tahr or Burrel gives 
a chance, by all means take it. But if you really want to make 
bags of Pheasants and the like, you must make them your 
object. Of course, too, you must get right away from hill stations 
and avoid lines on which other people have been recently shoot- 
ing, but the hills are so vast and so very few men even to this 
day go in in earnest for small game, or can get leave in the 
latter part of October and November, wilich is the real time 
for Pheasants, that this is easy. 

I continually hear people abusing the shooting in the hills, 
and declaring that it is impossible to get more than two or three 
brace of birds in a day, but the fact simply is, that these sports- 
men have not yet learnt their trade. Go to suitable localities, in 
the proper season, with good dogs and men, and if you are a 
fair walker and a fair shot, you may make as grand and varied 
bags of Pheasants and Partridges of sorts, Woodcock, and solitary 
Snipe in the Himalayas as in any place in the world where game 
is not artificially protected ; and all the while you will be 



THE KOKLASS. l6l 

enjoying the finest climate, and will be surrounded by the most 
magnificent scenery. 

Wilson says of the Koklass : — 

" This is another forest Pheasant common to the whole of the 
wooded regions, from an elevation of about 4,000 feet to nearly 
the extreme limits of forest, but is most abundant in the lower 
and intermediate ranges. In the lower ranges its favourite 
haunts are in wooded ravines ; but it is found on nearly all hill 
sides which are covered with trees or bushes, from the summit 
of the ridges to about half way down. Further in the interior 
it is found scattered in all parts, from near the foot of the hills 
to the top, or as far as the forest reaches, seeming most partial 
to the deep sloping forests composed of oak, chestnut, and 
morenda pine, with box, yew, and other trees intermingled, and a 
thick underwood of ringal. 

" The Koklass is of a rather retired and solitary disposition. 
It is generally found singly or in pairs ; and, except the 
brood of young birds, which keep pretty well collected till near 
the end of winter, they seldom congregate much together. 
When numerous, several are often put up at no great distance 
from each other, as if they were members of one lot ; but when 
more thinly scattered, it is seldom that more than two old birds 
are found together ; and at whatever season, when one is found, 
its mate may, almost to a certainty, be found somewhere near. 
This would lead one to imagine that many pairs do not separate 
after the business of incubation is over, but keep paired for 
several successive years. 

" In forests where there is little grass or underwood, they 
get up as soon as aware of the approach of any one near, or 
run quickly along the ground to some distance ; but where 
there is much cover, they lie very close and will not get up till 
forced by dogs or beaters. When put up by dogs they often 
fly up into a tree close by, which they rarely do when flushed by 
beaters or the sportsman himself, then flying a long way and 
generally alighting on the ground. Their flight is rapid in the 
extreme, and after a few whirrs, they sometimes shoot down 
like lightning. They sometimes utter a few low chuckles before 
getting up, and rise sometimes with a low screeching chatter, 
and sometimes silently. The males often crow at daybreak, 
and occasionally at all hours. 

" In the remote forests of the interior, on the report of a gun, 
all which are within half a mile or so, will often crow after 
each report ; they also often crow after a clap of thunder or 
any loud and sudden noise ; this peculiarity seems to be con- 
fined to those in dark shady woods in the interior, as I never 
noticed it on the lower hills. 

11 The Koklass feeds principally on leaves and buds ; it also 
eats roots, grubs, acorns, seeds, and berries, moss and flowers. 
It will not readily eat grain, and is more difficult to rear in 

21 



1 62 THE KOKLASS. 

confinement than the Jewar or Moonal. It roosts in trees 
generally, but at times on low bushes or on the ground. 

"In the lower regions this bird should be sought for from 
about the middle of the hill upwards ; oak forests, where the 
ground is rocky and uneven, are the most likely places to find 
it. Dogs are requisite to ensure sport, and are much to be 
preferred to beaters, as birds which, if flushed by the latter, 
would go far out of all reach, will often fly into the trees close 
above the dogs, and may be approached quite close, seeming to 
pay more attention to the movements of these than to the pre- 
sence of the sportsman. In the interior they will be found with 
the Moonal in all forests, but always keep in the wood, and do 
not, like it, resort to the borders ; they are worth shooting, if but for 
the table, as the. flesh is perhaps the best of the Hill Pheasants." 

Captain Baldwin has some pertinent remarks on this species, 
though he, of course, has only shot them in summer, viz. y in the 
breeding season. He says : — " I have shot the Koklass out of the 
same cover as the Moonal, at an elevation of 13,000 feet. It is 
especially fond of cypress and oak forests, and is generally found 
singly or in pairs. I have never seen more than four full- 
grown birds together at a time. 

" A sportsman often flushes the Koklass when on the steep 
grassy slopes looking for Gooral, especially if there are oak trees 
in the vicinity. I have been startled by the bird, which, when 
rising, makes a loud croaking noise. The Koklass is a particu- 
larly swift flyer ; more so, I am inclined to think, than any 
other of the Himalayan Pheasants ; it darts down the side of the 
mountains with astonishing rapidity, and requires, when well on 
the wing, an experienced shot to cut it over. 

" The sportsman, on awakening in the early morning, when 
encamped on the uplands to hunt Thar, will hear the harsh l kok- 
kokpokrass' cry of this bird on all sides, and Pucrasia macrolopha 
when heralding the dawn of day in this manner is generally 
sitting on one of the lower boughs of a cypress tree. 

" It is in the habit of hunting for food and scratching about 
in search of insects among patches of rhododendron, and I have 
observed it so occupied in close company with the Moonal. I 
do not think that this bird approaches villages and habitations 
like the Kalij, nor have I ever shot it out of standing corn. 
They will crow three or four together, on being startled by a 
distant gun shot, a stone rolling down, or a clap of thunder. 

" Two brace is the most that I have ever shot in a day, though, 
generally speaking, after driving a valley with beaters, a few 
brace of Koklass are included among the slain." 



The Koklass breeds throughout the Himalayas in all well- 
wooded localities within the limits above indicated. The bird 
may be shot at any elevation from 3,000 to 14,000 feet, but it 



THE KOKLASS. 163 

only nests, according to my experience, from 6,000 to 9,000 
feet. The breeding time lasts from the middle of April until 
the middle of June, according to locality and season, but the 
majority lay, in normal years, during the first-half of May. 

This species is, I think, unquestionably monogamous, and the 
birds, I suspect, commonly pair for life. 

Little or no nest is made ; a circular depression is scratched 
in the forest, in a thick shelter of undergrowth or under some 
huge root or overhanging rock, and in this, unlined, or hut 
sparsely lined with leaves, moss, or dry grass, or all three, the 
eggs, from five to nine in number, are laid. 

Mr. Wilson remarked, many years ago, that " the female 
lays seven eggs, nearly resembling those of the Moonal in 
colour. They are hatched about the middle or end of May. She 
makes her nest under the shelter of an overhanging tuft of 
grass, or in a corner at the foot of a tree, and sometimes in the 
hollow of a decayed trunk." 

Now writing to me from Garhwal, he says :— 
" The Koklass breeds at elevations of from 5,000 to 10,000 or 
11,000 feet, in coppices and forests with some underwood. The 
nest is a hole scraped in the ground, and always sheltered 
under a tuft of grass, or thick bush, or overhanging stone, and 
it is sometimes made in the hollow at the foot of a big tree or 
old trunk. As a rule, the number of eggs seems to be nine. 
It begins to lay early in May, but some not till the end of the 
month. Both birds are generally found with the young brood. 
The male chicks of this and the Kalij get their proper plumage 
the first year. By the middle of September they are pretty 
well grown." 

The eggs are oval, more or less pointed towards the small 
end, and vary a good deal in size and shape, as in the case of the 
Pea- Fowl, some being much broader, and others more elongated 
ovals. None that I have seen have been at all of the ovoido- 
conoidal shape of the Francolins, and the Common Pheasant 
{P. colchicus). The shape is more that of the true Partridge, 
Galloperdix and Gallophasis. The ground colour is a rich pale 
buff, and the eggs are, some densely and thickly speckled and 
spotted, and others boldly but thinly blotched and splashed 
with deep brownish red, which is dullest in the speckled, and 
brightest and deepest in the blotched, varieties. 

The eggs of these two types vary more in appearance than 
might perhaps be supposed from the above description. One 
egg will have the whole ground as thickly speckled over as 
possible with minute dots, not one of them much bigger than a 
pin's point, and so closely set that a pin's head could nowhere 
be placed between them ; while another egg will have at most 
a dozen bold blotches, and three or four times that number of 
good-sized spots, leaving comparatively large spaces of ground 
colour utterly unspotted. It is impossible to conceive a richer 



1 64 THE KOKLASS. 

brownish red than that displayed in some of these blotches, and 
eggs of this species of the boldly-coloured type are, I think, the 
handsomest of all our Indian game birds' eggs. Taken as a 
body, they are very like miniature Moonal eggs, and they also 
remind one much of those of the European Black Grouse. 

The eggs vary very much in size, viz., from 1*85 to 2*29 in 
length, and from 1*39 to 1*57 in breadth ; but the average of fifty 
eggs is 2*08 by 1*47. 



Males measure. — Length, 23 to 25*5 ; expanse, 29*0 to 30*5 ; 
wing, 9*25 to io*o ; tail from vent, 9-3 to 11*25; tarsus, 2*65 
to 2*85 ; bill from gape, 1*3 to 1-52. Weight, 2 lbs, 2 ozs. to 
2 lbs. 14 ozs. 

The bill black or blackish dusky ; the irides dark brown ; 
the legs and feet varying, in some purplish horny, in some 
ashy, with a slight fleshy tinge ; in some greyish horny, a pale 
horny blue in front and dingy brown behind. 

Females — Length, 2075 to 22'0 ; expanse, 27*5 to 28-5 ; wing, 
8*2 to 8-9 ; tail from vent, 7*2 to 8*5 ; tarsus, 2*47 to 2*55 ; bill from 
gape, 1*38 to 1*46. Weight, 1 lb. 10 oz. to 2 lbs. 

The bill dark horny ; the irides dark brown ; the legs and 
feet pale plumbeous, or horny grey. 



The Plate does not represent a typical macro lopha. The 
black central stripes to the feathers of the upper back, back 
and sides of neck, and sides of breast and body, are not in typical 
macrolopha half the width there shown, while on the rump and 
upper tail-coverts they are almost entirely, at times wholly, 
wanting in this form. Our plate was drawn from a specimen 
intermediate between macrolopha and nipalensis, but nearest the 
former. As far as I can judge, all three supposed species are 
inseparably connected by an unbroken series of intermediate 
forms. 



^V^S ^~^ >^ 







m^g 



tit mmi Mutt 



Pucrasia nipalensis, Goukl 

Vernacular Names.— [Pokrass, Nepal.] 




S I have already noticed, when speaking of the previ- 
ous species, many authorities consider the Koklass of 
the Himalayas referable to three distinct species. 

Whether these three forms should be considered 
distinct species or only treated as varieties or local 
races, is of no essential significance. All classifi- 
cation is purely a matter of convenience ; nature 
lays down no hard and fast lines, and those that we profess 
to lay down, when we pretend to declare that this is merely a 
race, that a distinct species, and so on, are purely arbitrary and 
dependent on personal idiosyncracies. 

So far as I myself am concerned, I incline to consider the 
whole of the Koklass, which are as yet known to occur in 
our hills, as one and the same species, varying much accord- 
ing to localities, and somewhat also, as regards individuals, 
even in the same locality, but all so running one into the 
other, and all accompanied by so many intermediate forms, 
that it is desirable to treat all as one species. 

Others, equally competent to judge, think that we have 
three distinct species, and it is therefore desirable to recognize 
their differences, and explain how typical examples of each 
form are distinguished. 

In macrolopha, the chestnut of the lower throat and middle of 
breast, &c, does not extend at all round the neck ; the feathers 
of the back and sides of the neck, interscapulary region, sides 
of the breast, and body and flanks, are grey, with narrow, central 
black stripes. 

In nipalensis (I speak on the strength of several specimens 
recently procured for me in Nepal by Dr. Scully), all these 
feathers are black, with only narrow grey edges, many of them, 
especially on the sides and flanks, with narrow reddish shaft 
lines. In this species or race, also, the red does not go round the 
neck. 

In castanea, the feathers of the flanks are apparently much 
more like these of nipalensis, but there is a much greater extent 
of chestnut on the breast and belly, and the chestnut goes all 
round the base of the neck. 



1 66 THE NEPAL KOKLASS. 

In nipalensis, the whole of the feathers of the lower back, 
rump, and upper tail-coverts are broadly centred with black, but 
in macrolopha they are mostly grey, paling towards the margins, 
and this appears to be the case also in castanea. 

I have never yet been able to obtain any typical specimens 
of the so-called castanea (I retain Mr. Gould's name for reasons 
fully explained, S. R, VII, 124). 

The bird figured as such by Mr. Elliot is not, in my opinion, 
the true castanea, but an intermediate form. No doubt 
Mr. Elliot says that he purchased the type of P. castanea from 
Mr. Gould, but he is mistaken, since Mr. Gould's types were 
specimens collected in Kafiristan by Griffiths, at that time, and 
probably still, in the Indian Museum. 

Again, neither the bird figured by ourselves nor that figured 
by Mr. Elliot as macrolopha is what I consider typical macrolo- 
pha, of which our Museum contains a very large series. Both 
represent forms more or less intermediate between macrolopha 
and nipalensis. Mr. Gould's figures of these two species are 
fairly illustrative of them, but even these by no means re- 
present the most extreme or thoroughly characteristic examples 
that might have been selected to exhibit the differences of the 
two races. But they show these better than ours do. 

No doubt these races grade into each other, and it is therefore 
most difficult to define their exact range, but, as at present in- 
formed, true macrolopha is the species that spreads from Central 
Kashmir to throughout most, if not the whole, of British 
Garhwal and perhaps part of Kumaun. 

Typical nipalensis is apparently confined to the northern 
portions of the western-half of Nepal (I have never been able 
to hear of any Koklassin Eastern Nepal, or Sikhim, or anywhere 
in the Himalayas further east) ; but some of the Kumaun 
specimens (and I have been told some from the extreme 
east of British Garhwal) exhibit more or less of the charac- 
teristics of nipalensis. 

Castanea, again, in its typical form is said to be confined to 
Yasin Mastuj, Chitral, Swat and Kafiristan, but this rests on 
absolutely no authority. Certainly specimens obtained in the 
westernmost portions of Kashmir show a leaning towards 
this form, and may prove to be identical with the specimens 
on which the species was founded. 

Of castanea we have given no figure ; I have never yet suc- 
ceeded in obtaining a typical specimen, and those Western Kash- 
mir specimens that I have seen are certainly not distinct enough 
to need figuring. Nothing, moreover, is really known of its 
distribution, habits, or the like. 

Macrolopha and nipalensis, though they undoubtedly, in my 
opinion, locally grade into each other, are, I find, when typical 
examples of each are selected, fairly distinguishable ; and 
we have therefore figured both, though unfortunately not 



THE NEPAL KOKLASS. 1 6/ 

a typical example of the former. True castanea may be 
equally distinct, but the Western Kashmir specimens, which 
probably are only verging towards castanea, certainly are not so. 

Nothing is known of the habits of the Nepal Koklass. No Euro- 
pean has ever shot it or seen it in a wild state. All my specimens 
I owe to Dr. Scully, who writes thus in regard to them : — 

" In the beginning of 1877 Mr. Hume urged me to procure 
specimens of the Nepal Koklass, in order that the question 
of its identity with, or distinctness from, macrolopha might be 
definitely settled. This proved no easy task, as the bird, 
though not uncommon in the western portion of the Nepal 
Himalaya, does not occur in any part of the hills so far to the 
east as the Valley of Nepal. However, after waiting for some six 
or seven months, I received the seven birds whose measurements 
are recorded further on, from Jumla in Western Nepal, through 
the kindness of my friend General Umber Jung, a nephew of the 
late Sir Jung Bahadur. Three other specimens were subse- 
quently seen in confinement in the valley, and these also had 
been brought from Jumla. 

" Unfortunately I can give no details about the habits of this 
Pheasant from personal observation ; it is said to be plentiful 
about Jumla, where it is found not far from the snows. In con- 
finement the birds become very tame, and seem to prefer green 
leaves and shoots, &c, to grain for food. 

" There can be no doubt that Pucrasia nipalensis is thorough- 
ly distinct from P. macrolopha ; the former is a smaller bird, 
darker and much more richly coloured than the common 
Koklass. Although Mr. Gould has said all that is necessary on this 
point, it may be worth while again to draw attention to the 
characters by which the two species may be at once distinguish- 
ed. 

" In macrolopha the male bird has the body above the sides 
of neck and breast and the flanks, light ashy, with a narrow 
black stripe down the centre of the feathers, including the 
shaft. In nipalensis the feathers of the corresponding parts are 
velvet black, narrowly fringed at their margins with grey, 
while the shafts of the feathers are either white with a line of 
chestnut on each side, or wholly chestnut." 

" The female of P. nipalensis, besides being smaller and darker 
than the hen of macrolopha, has the colours much more intense, 
and with a greater admixture of rufous ; and the tail feathers are 
nearly all chestnut." 

The following are dimensions, &c, recorded, mostly in the 
flesh, of this species or race by Dr. Scully : — 

Males. — Length, 23*0 to 25*0? ; expanse, 27-5 to 29*0 ; wing, 
8*3 to 9*1 ; tail from vent, 9*0 to 10*0 ? ; tarsus, 2*5 to 27 ; bill 
from gape, 1*2 to 1*4; spur, 0*3 to 0*63 ; crest, 3*5. Weight, lib. 
15 ozs. to 2 lbs. 2 ozs. 



1 68 THE NEPAL KOKLASS. 

Females. — Length, 2roto 22*0 ? ; expanse, 27*0 to 28*0 ; wing, 
8*i to 8'6; tail from vent, yo to 8 f o? ; tarsus, 2*2 to 2*5 ; bill 
from gape, 1*15 to 1*25. Weight, i*8 oz. to 1*14 oz. 

The weights are probably too small, as wild birds always fall off 
much in confinement. 

The irides were deep brown ; the bill black or dusky, greyish 
or yellowish horny at tip of upper and base of lower mandible, 
and sometimes over a considerable portion of this latter. 
The legs and feet varied from dingy plumbeous, bluish dusky 
or bluish grey to dingy lavender horny; the claws blackish to 
dusky horny ; orbits clad with feathers ; the lower eyelid whitish 
fleshy. 



THE Plate, though taken from a Nepal specimen, hardly suffi- 
ciently brings out the characteristic features of the species, and 
the lower parts of the male are wrongly coloured, being really a 
rich deep chestnut. 



Outside OUR limits at least two species of Koklassare known — 
one, P. xanthospilay from the north-east of China and Eastern 
Thibet, and the other, P. darwini y from South- Eastern China. 



v^ 



'JO 



I 



Phasianus wallichi, Hardwicke. 




VemaCUlar Names.— [Kahir, Chihir, Nepal j Cheer, Kumaun, Garhwdl, and 
further west ; Bunchil, Boinchil, Herril, Hills north of Mussooree ; Chummun, 
Chaman, Cham&a, Kullu, &c] 



ERDON and others following him talk loosely of this 
species " inhabiting the North-Western Himalayas 
and extending* into Nepal, where, however, it is not 
so common as further west" 

It does just occur in the very westernmost por- 
tions of Nepal, and that is all, while to the North- 
Western Himalayas, by which I understand Hazara 
and Kashmir, it does not, I believe, extend at all. 

Its range is very limited. In Nepal it is, I believe, confined to 
the Hills west of the Dewa. 

It occurs and is plentiful in Kumaun, British Garhwal, Native 
ditto or Teree, in the Hill Parganas (Jaunsar Bawar,) of the 
Dehra Dhun district, in Jubal, Taroche and others of these 
small Hill states, Bussahir, Mandi, Suket, Kullu and Kangra. 
It is not uncommon about Chamba, in the upper valley of the 
Ravi, but I can obtain no reliable information of its occur- 
rence in Kashmir, 

I ought to notice that there are local differences in the colour- 
ation of the neck, breast, sides, back and rump in the Cheer, 
precisely analogous to, though doubtless not quite so marked as 
those which, in the case of the Koklass, have led to the formation 
of three so-called species. But in the case of the Cheer, perhaps 
owing to their comparative scarcity in museums in Europe, no 
one fortunately has contended for the existence of more than 
one species. 



The Cheer is extremely locally distributed, and seems to me 
very capricious in its choice of habitations ; on one side of a 
river you meet with plenty in suitable spots ; on the other side 
you may search fifty square miles of most likely-looking country 
and never see one. 

From six to seven thousand feet is the elevation at which, 
in October, they are most common, but in winter and spring 
they go lower, and some even breed lower, and in summer they 
may be met with up to at least ten thousand feet (I myself 
killed a pair of old ones late in June at fully this elevation), and 

22 



I/O THE CHEER. 

probably higher. Of course they are birds of the outer or 
wooded Hills, and once you cross a high snowy ridge, that 
effectually arrests the clouds of the monsoon, into dry, more or 
less treeless regions, like Lahoul, Spiti and Ladakh, you lose 
the Cheer and all the Pheasants but the Snow Cocks. They are 
all more or less birds of the forest, and all belong to the zone 
of abundant rainfall. 

The best places in which to find Cheer are the Dangs or pre- 
cipitous places, so common in many parts of the interior ; not 
vast bare cliffs, but a whole congeries of little cliffs one above 
the other, each perhaps from 15 to 30 feet high, broken up by 
ledges, on which a man could barely walk, but thickly set with 
grass and bushes, and out of which grow up stunted trees, and 
from which hang down curious skeins of grey roots and mighty 
garlands of creepers. 

If the hill above be thinly wooded, and on some plateau 
below there are a good number of Millet and Princes'-feather 
fields, you are, in a Cheer district, next to certain in the autumn 
to find a covey on the upper ledges of such a spot about ten 
o'clock in the morning. 

Then what a morning's sport you may have. You get on some 
knoll or spur commanding the lower portions of such a series 
of clifflets, where you will be clear of the stones that the dogs 
and men inevitably dislodge. The dogs are put in at the very 
top, a few of the men climbing with them on such ledges as are 
accessible ; the stones rattle down fast, a pahari slips, shouts, 
and saves himself by clinging to a branch ; all the dogs bark, 
every man looking on shouts out a different piece of advice if 
the slip was serious, or a separate gibe, if it was trivial, for the 
benefit of the slipper ; all this comes down to you three or 
four hundred feet below, a confused babel ; you scream out 
" silence," then a sharp yelp, a volley of screeching chuckles, 
you see a dark object shoot out from the face of the upper 
cliffs, a moment, and it suddenly contracts in size, and the 
next hurtles by you, like a falling thunderbolt, and if you do 
not miss it, it is quite certain that it is not the first time you 
have shot Cheer. 

But whether hit or missed, there is no time to enquire now ; 
good men are below to mark every bird that comes down, dead 
or alive, or half-and-half. 

Another and another of these animated projectiles pass you 
in their downward rush, some out of shot, some so close that it 
is impossible to fire, and very often three, four, five in such 
rapid succession that even with two doubles, in the old muzzle- 
loading times, it was impossible to fire quick enough. 

Twelve or more perhaps have been counted, the dogs and 
men have worked down to the level at which you stand, when 
you catch a glimpse, scuttling round the base of the knoll, of the 
old cock, going at railroad pace with head down and tail 



THE CHEER. 171 

straight out, and you arrest his career (if you are sharp enough) 
then and there. 

Then comes the work below ; the dogs are called close to heel, 
and following the shouted directions of the markers, you move 
about here and there, now finding a dead bird, now having a 
wounded one brought you by a dog, and now getting nearly 
knocked down by one w T hose tail absolutely brushes your face 
as it rises under your feet from the centre of a small patch of 
cover, which, on the persistent outcries of the markers, you 
have been vainly hunting through, backwards and forwards, for 
the ten previous minutes. 

But you do not account for all, unless you are a better shot 
than I ever yet saw, though in these days of breech-loaders far 
fewer ought to escape — some wounded birds, and many of the 
unwounded will have given leg bail, and the distances they will 
then go is surprising. I have, quite by accident, recovered by 
a dog pouncing on it a Cheer, with pinion broken, the blood 
still fresh on it, fully three miles down a valley at the upper part 
of which two or three hours previously I had had a beat. 

The sport is very exhilarating, but you are generally lower 
down than in Koklass shooting ; you are more closed in, the air 
is not so fresh and bright, there are no superb wide-reaching 
views, changing as you move ; a glimpse of the snows is rarely 
to be caught ; you have no magnificent forest about you, and 
when brought to bag, your bird is very poor eating compared 
with Koklass or Woodcock. 

The force with which Cheer descend is almost incredible. 
Other Pheasants in descending keep the wings a little open ; 
these birds pass one at such a fearful pace that it is impossible 
to be certain, but it always appeared to me that Cheer quite 
closed their wings, and I attribute their power to do this to 
their enormous tails sufficing to guide them. When within 
a hundred feet, I speak by guess, of the level at which 
they intend to light, suddenly out go the wings, the tail is 
spread to its fullest expanse, the bird looks double the size 
it did a second before, and sweeps off in graceful curves right 
or left, shortly dropping suddenly, almost as if shot, into some 
patch of low cover. If no shots have been fired, you may 
walk straight down, and ten to one find him exactly where you 
marked him. 

At times you get them on the hill sides, where the trees 
are thin, but there is no great sport to be got there ; the whole 
covey is scattered over an endless distance, you must make 
a line, the birds will get up in front of any one but the gunner, 
and run down hill in a most provoking manner ; if you get 
two brace in such a situation after five or six hours' fagging you 
may be well pleased, unless the covey happens to have an 
antipathy to dogs, as they occasionally seem to have in out- 
of-the-way places. Then almost every bird that is found by 



172 THE CHEER. 

these flies straight up into the nearest tree, and thence, 
standing almost on tip-toe on some horizontal bough, with 
feathers erected and tail spread, chuckles or crows, or whatever 
you like to call it, at the barking 1 and yelping Cockers below, till 
you walk up and (tell it not to your friends when you return 
to camp) solemnly pot him or her then and there. 

I was once nearly killed by a Cheer. I was standing in a rather 
awkward place, the extreme outer edge of a plateau jutting 
out for 20 or 30 yards near the base of a patch of precipitous 
ground; behind me was a sheer fall of about forty feet; a 
Cheer was flushed above, it was coming right for me. I let 
off the gun somehow, and almost before it seemed well off, 
my gun was dashed aside and I got a blow on the face that 
made my nose bleed, and knocked me over the precipice, to 
the bottom of which my gun fell, as should I also, had not the 
two men squatting at my feet seized my legs. Yet this bird, 
as the state of the body proved, must have been at least 30 
yards from me when the shot struck it, and it was stone dead 
when I had sufficiently recovered myself to think of it. 

But enough of personal reminiscences ; we have a far better 
account of this species than I can pretend to give in my friend 
Mr. Wilson's narrative. He says : — 

" This species is an inhabitant of the lower and intermediate 
ranges, seldom found at very high elevations, and never ap- 
proaching the limits of forest. 

" Though far from being rare, fewer perhaps are met with 
than of any other kind unless it is particularly sought for, 
always excepting the Jewar. The reason of this may be that 
the general character of the ground where they resort is not so 
inviting in appearance to the sportsman as other places ; 
besides, they are everywhere confined to particular localities, 
and are not, like the rest, scattered indiscriminately over almost 
every part of the regions they inhabit. Their haunts are on 
grassy hills with a scattered forest of oak and small patches 
of underwood, hills covered with the common pine, near the 
sites of deserted villages, old cow-sheds, and the long grass 
amongst precipices and broken ground. 

" They are seldom found on hills entirely destitute of trees 
or jungles, or in the opposite extreme of deep shady forest ; 
in the lower ranges they keep near the top of the hill or about 
the middle, and are seldom found in the valleys or deep ravines. 
Further in the interior they are generally low down, often in 
the immediate vicinity of the villages, except in the breeding- 
season, when each pair seeks a spot to perform the business of 
incubation ; they congregate in flocks of from five or six to 
ten or fifteen, and seldom more than two or three lots inhabit 
the same hill. 

" They wander a good deal about the particular hill they 
are located on, but not beyond certain boundaries, remaining 



THE CHEER. 173 

about one spot for several days or weeks, and then shifting 
to another, but never entirely abandoning the place, and year 
after year they may, to a certainty, be found in some quarter 
of it. 

" During the day, unless dark and cloudy, they keep con- 
cealed in the grass and bushes, coming out morning and 
evening to feed. When come upon suddenly while out, they 
run off quickly in different directions, and conceal themselves 
in the nearest cover, and seldom more than one or two get on 
the wing. They run very fast, and if the ground is open and 
no cover near, many will run two or three hundred yards in 
preference to getting up. 

"After concealing themselves they lie very close, and are 
flushed within a few yards. There is, perhaps, no bird of its 
size which is so difficult to find after the flock have been dis- 
turbed and they have concealed themselves ; where the grass 
is very long, even if marked down, without a good dog it is 
often impossible to flush them, and even with the assistance of the 
best dogs not one-half will be found a second time. A person 
may walk within a yard of one, and it will not move. I have 
knocked them over with a stick, and even taken them with the 
hand. In autumn the long grass, so prevalent about many of 
the places they resort to, enables them to hide almost anywhere ; 
but this is burnt by the villagers at the end of winter, and they 
then seek refuge in low jungle and brushwood, and with a dog 
are not so difficult to find. 

u Both males and females often crow at daybreak and dusk, 
and in cloudy weather sometimes during the day. The crow is 
loud and singular, and, when there is nothing to interrupt, the 
sound may be heard for at least a mile. It is something like the 
words chir-a-pir, chir-a-pir, chir chir, chirwa, chirwa, but a good 
deal varied ; it is often begun before complete daylight, and in 
spring, when the birds are numerous, it invariably ushers in the 
day ; in this respect it may rival the domestic cock. When pairing 
and scattered about, the crow is often kept up for nearly half an 
hour, first from one quarter, then another ; and now and then all 
seem to join in a chorus. At other times it seldom lasts more 
than five or ten minutes. 

" The Cheer Pheasant feeds chiefly on roots, for which it digs 
holes in the ground, grubs, insects, seeds and berries, and, if near 
cultivated fields, several kinds of grain form a portion of its 
diet ; it does not eat grass or leaves like the rest of our Pheasants. 

" It is easy to rear in confinement, and might, without difficulty, 
be naturalized in England, if it would stand the long frosts and 
snows of severe winters, which I imagine is rather doubtful. 

" This bird flies rather heavily, and seldom very far. Like 
most others, it generally utters a few loud screeches on getting 
up, and spreads out the beautifully barred feathers of its long 
tail both when flying and running. It does not perch much on 



174 THE CHEER. 

trees, but will occasionally fly up into one close by, when put 
up by dogs. It roosts on the ground generally, and when con- 
gregated together, the whole flock huddle up in one spot. At 
times, however, they will roost in trees and bushes." 

I cannot avoid noticing that, in the case of this and several 
other species, Ornithognomon's famous letters to the Field, are 
mere abstracts and paraphrases of Mr. Wilson's papers, to which 
the author's obligations are, it seems to me, insufficiently acknow- 
ledged. 

The Cheer breeds throughout the lower ranges of the Hima- 
layas, within the limits already indicated, at elevations of from 
4,000 to 7,000 or 8,000 feet. Their nests may be met with from 
April to June, most of the eggs, however, being laid during 
May, early or late in the month, according as the season is a 
cold or warm one. Personally, I have only taken three nests 
of this species altogether, so that I cannot generalize safely, 
but my impression, derived from this limited experience is, that 
they always nest near or about the foot of some very precipitous 
hill-side, what the natives call " Dang" cliffs not absolutely 
vertical, but still the next thing to it, broken up into ledges and 
steps, and studded with down-trailing bushes, tufts of grass, and, 
growing here and there out of some larger cleft or wider ledge 
a few stunted trees. 

In 1853 I was living at a small house behind the " Camel's 
Back" at Mussooree, a house which was afterwards converted 
into a dispensary. About a thousand feet below, and perhaps 
half a mile from this, is a precipice, such as I have described, 
and at the foot of this, in the midst of a tuft of grass, I found, 
on the 3rd May, a nest of the Cheer containing two eggs. 
It was a mere depression, some 14 inches in diameter and 3 
inches in depth in the centre, obviously scratched by the birds, 
and strewed, rather than lined, with a few scraps of grass. 
Eleven more eggs were laid, one daily, and then the hen began 
to sit. One egg was addled ; the rest were hatched some time 
in June, but I kept no note of the date. The whole family 
then took up their residence in the precipice, and there remained 
until the middle of October, when, the young being nearly 
full grown, I commenced shooting them, and shot a brace once 
or twice a week, until there were only two or three young 
ones left. At 1 1 A.M. they were always in the upper part of 
the precipice ; my dogs used to be put in and would rummage 
along the ledges and turn them out, when, after a few strong 
strokes, outwards from the face of the cliff, they would all but 
close their wings and come down past me (I always stood in 
the same place on a knoll at the foot of the cliff where I was 
safe from stones) like lightning. I remember well missing 
every single shot the first day, but the next time I got a brace, 
and after that I never went home without one or two, and, 



THE CHEER, 175 

strange to say, my weekly, and sometimes bi-weekly, visits never 
had the effect of driving them away, and what is more, in 
October i860, when I again visited the place, I found my friends 
in their old locality, and got three brace then and there. 

I found another nest with several eggs late in May, in a very 
similar situation, on Nagtiber, at, I suppose, an elevation of 
about 6,000 feet, and a third, containing four eggs, which I took 
very early in May, a few miles from Juggutsook, in the upper 
valley of the Beas. This too was similarly situated. 

Mr. Wilson tells us that " the female makes her nest in 
the grass or amongst low bushes, and lays from nine to 
fourteen eggs of a dull white, and rather small for so 
large a bird. They are hatched about the end of May or 
beginning of June. Both male and female keep with the young 
brood and seem very solicitous for their welfare." 

The eggs are, as remarked by " Mountaineer," very small for 
the size of the bird. They are of a very pale stone colour or a 
dingy slightly cafe ate lait tinted-white. They are almost devoid 
of markings, but towards one or other end many specimens 
exhibit small, somewhat pale, brownish red specks and spots ; 
and one or two that I have seen have had a good number of 
very minute specks of the same colour scattered about the surface. 
They altogether want the warm cafe au lait tint of those of 
the Moonal, Koklass, and the Kalij, and laid beside these eggs 
they seem to have a slightly greenish tint. In shape they 
resemble an ordinary hen's egg, and are not at all, as might 
have been expected, like those of P. colchicus. The shell has 
a slight gloss, but it exhibits throughout the minute pits or pores 
so characteristic of rasorial eggs, in a much less degree no 
doubt than those of the Peacock and others, but in a greater 
degree than those of the Koklass. 

They appear very uniform in size ; at any rate the specimens 
I have measured only varied from 2^05 to 2'22 in length, and 
from 1 '47 to 1*56 in breadth. 



In this species the males are much larger and heavier than 
the females. 

Males. — Length, 34/0 to 40*0 * ; expanse, 29*0 to 31*0 ; wing, 
9/6 to 10*4 ; tail from vent, 20'o to 23*0 ; tarsus, 2'8 to 2*95 ; bill 
from gape, 1*35 to 1-45. Weight, 2 lbs. 10 ozs. to 3 lbs. 7 ozs., 
and, I believe, to nearly 4 lbs., though I have no note by me 
of the fact. 

Females. —Length, 24-0 to 29*5 ; expanse, 26*0 to 29*0 ; wing, 
8'8 to 9-5 ; tail from vent, 13*5 to 15-5 ; tarsus, 2*5 to 2-65 ; 
bill from gape, V2 to 1*35. Weight, 2 lbs to 2lbs 12 ozs. 



* Jerdon, quoting Wilson, says 46, and tail to 28. I have never met with such birds 
(38 is, I think, the average length of fine Cocks), but Wilson is sure to be right, and 
exceptional birds of these huge dimensions must occur, 



1/6 THE CHEER. 

The bill is horny brown, always pale, sometimes very much 
so and yellowish, sometimes with a bluish grey tinge ; the 
irides are bright reddish to orange, or yellowish brown ; the 
legs and feet pale brownish plumbeous, or grey brown on the 
scaled front of the tarsi and toes, and pinker or more fleshy on 
the reticulated backs of the tarsi, sides of toes and back of the 
feet ; the bare space round the eyes is scarlet crimson, very 
bright in some birds, and in some dotted with pinky white in 
one or more lines. 



The Plate is all that could be hoped for from a chromo, 
and held at a distance of a few feet is a perfect picture of the 
bird. 



(Slip to face page 176. ) 



Although I have retained the Cheer in the genus Phasianus, 
it is so unlike all the other known members of this genus, that 
it might well be relegated, as many authors have relegated it, to 
a distinct genus of its own, (Catreiis). 

The genus Phasianus includes some nine or ten species, all more 
or less closely resembling our Common European Pheasant (the 
original habitat of which is said to have been the shores of the 
Caspian, the Caucasus, and Asia Minor) and all belonging to 
Japan, China, and the more temperate portions of Asia north 
of the Himalayas. 

Then we have the Cheer, sui generis, whose habitat has already 
been described, and lastly three other very splendid and aberrant 
forms, each of which might well, like the Cheer, be separated 
in a distinct genus of its own, w> : Reeves' and Elliot's Pheasants 
from China and Scemmerring's from Japan. 



mt w»!*ii!tii! mm 



iV*'« 



Euplocamus albocristatus, Vigon 



VemaClllar Names.— [Kalij, Kumaun and Garhwdl (and generally) ; Rook- 
era, Meerghi-Kalij, Hills north of Mussooree ; Kaleysur (male), Kalaysee, 
(female), (Pahari Hindi), Ktcllu, Mandi, Suket, &>c. ; Kolsa (Punjabi), 
Western Punjab.] 




E have four well-marked species of Kalij Phea- 
sant, and as one of them has for long been 
erroneously considered a hybrid, it may be 
well to preface my remarks on the first species 
by a brief table of the leading differences be- 
tween the four : — 



E. albocristatus $ . 



leucbmelanus 
vielanonotus 
horsfieldi 



Crest. Breast. Rump and Upper Tail-coverts. 

White. Greyish white, feathers Broadly tipped white. 

sharp pointed. 
Black. Do. More narrowly do. 

Do. Do. Black. 

Do. Black, feathers rounded. Broadly tipped white. 



Throughout the fairly wooded lower and middle ranges of 
the Himalayas, from Kumaun to Hazara, the White-Crested 
Kalij occurs, here sparingly, there abundantly, according to 
season and a variety of other more or less potential influences. 

It occurs equally, and in some places very abundantly, in 
the Siwaliks, a low range running nearly parallel to, but 
from thirty to sixty miles south of, the central and western 
sections of the Himalayas, and quite distinct from these geo- 
graphically and geologically. It is the only Himalayan 
Pheasant that does occur in these. 

I do not believe that it ever enters Nepal. Mr. Hodgson 
notes that, out of many hundred birds, he only saw one white- 
crested one, which was brought from far to the west beyond 
Jumla, and therefore probably from the Eastern Kumaun 
Hills, where I have myself shot albocristatus. If it does occur 
in Nepal, it is only in quite the westernmost portions. It is 
said to extend westwards into Baneer and Swat, but this needs 
confirmation. Biddulph, writing from Gilgit, says that he has 
not met with this species west of the Indus. 



23 



1^8 THE WHITE-CRESTED KALIJ, 

The great bulk of the birds will be met with in autumn 
and winter low down, near fields and water, or halting places on 
frequented roads. But during the summer they are occasionally 
to be found up to nine or ten thousand feet, They are 
not birds that, as a rule, afford much sport ; you may see a 
dozen together feeding in the early morning on one of the 
" perows" or encamping grounds in the Siwaliks of the Dhun, 
and you may bag a couple ; but even with good dogs to help 
you, they run so fast and fly so far that long and weary will 
be your hunt before you bag a second couple out of that 
same dozen after you have once fired. In fact, in such places, 
unless one has been marked into some neighbouring tree, when 
you will generally get a shot, it is best to go on sharp, as a 
quarter of a mile further on, on frequented roads like this, 
you will meet with others along the track, to which the horse 
dung and droppings of other beasts, containing undigested 
grain, attracts them. I have in old days shot four or five 
brace in an hour in the early morning on the road and " perows" 
when encamped in the Mohan or Lai Darwaza Pass, through 
which runs the main road to Dehra and Mussooree. 

Generally in the Hills you may pick up three or four birds 
in a day, by beating all likely looking patches of cover near 
fields, but it is rare with this species to make a good bag. 
There are, however, places where you may come across the 
Kalij almost as thick as Pheasants in a Norfolk cover. Such 
places there used to be close to Bhim Tal and Naukuchia 
Tal, small lakes not far from Naini Tal, but at a much lower 
level, and at the former of these I once, early in November, 
killed eleven and a half brace in less than three hours. 

In the Hills, as Mr. \Toung writes, " a bed of the small Hill 
bamboo, called Nergal or Ringal, with a stream running 
through it, more particularly if in the vicinity of cultivated 
lands, is an almost certain find for Kolsa." 

Wilson says : " This well-known Kalij is most abundant in 
the lower regions ; it is common in the Dhun at the foot of 
the hills, in all the lower valleys, and everywhere to an eleva- 
tion of about 8,000 feet : from this it becomes more rare, 
though a few are found still higher. 

" It appears to be more unsuspicious of man than the rest 
of our Pheasants ; it comes much nearer his habitations, and, 
from being so often found near the villages and roadsides, is 
considered by all as the most common, though, in their re- 
spective regions, the Moonal (Lophophorus iwpeyanus) is more 
numerous. 

" In the lower regions it is found in every description of 
forest, from the foot to the summit of the hills ; but it is most 
partial to low coppice and jungle, and wooded ravines or 
hollows. In the interior it frequents the scattered jungle at 
the borders of the dense forests, thickets near old deserted 



THE WHITE-CRESTED KALIJ. 1 79 

patches of cultivation, old cowsheds and the like, coppices 
near villages and roads, and, in fact, forests and jungle of 
every kind, except the distant and remoter woods, in which 
it is seldom found. The presence of man, or some trace that 
he has once been a dweller in the spot, seems, as it were, 
necessary to its existence. 

" The Kalij is not very gregarious. Three or four are 
often found together, and ten or a dozen may sometimes be 
put out of one small coppice ; but they seem in a great 
measure independent of each other, and much like our Eng- 
lish Pheasants. When disturbed, if feeding or on the move, 
they generally run, and do not often get up, unless surprised 
suddenly and closely or forced by dogs, and lie rather close 
in thick cover. 

" They are never very shy, and, where not unceasingly 
annoyed by sportsmen or shikaris, are as tame as any 
sportsman could wish. In walking up a ravine or hill-side, 
if put up by dogs a little distance above, they will often fly 
into the trees close above his head, and two or three allow 
themselves to be quietly knocked over in succession. When 
flushed from any place where they have sheltered, whether on 
the ground or aloft, they fly off to some distant cover, and 
alight on the ground in preference to the trees. 

" Their call is a loud whistling chuckle or chirrup ; it may 
occasionally be heard from the midst of some thicket or 
coppice at any hour of the day, but is not of very frequent 
occurrence. It is generally uttered when the bird rises, and, 
if it flies into a tree near, often continued some time. When 
flushed by a cat or a small animal, this chuckling is always 
loud and earnest. 

" The Kalij is very pugnacious, and the males have fre- 
quent battles. On one occasion I had shot a male, which lay 
fluttering on the ground in its death struggles, when another 
rushed out of the jungle and attacked it with the greatest 
fury, though I was standing reloading the gun close by. The 
male often makes a singular drumming noise with its wings, 
not unlike the sound produced by shaking in the air a stiff 
piece of cloth. It is heard only in the pairing season ; but 
whether to attract the attention of the females or in defiance 
of his fellows I cannot say, as I have never seen the bird in the 
act, though often led to the spot where they were by the sound." 

This is certainly not to attract the females, but solely as a 
defiance. If you peg out a tame male of the allied vermi- 
cellated Pheasant in the breeding season, as is commonly done 
in Burma, surrounding him with snares, and then set your 
male drumming, by imitating the sound with a piece of stiff 
cloth, male after male replies, rushes in at your bird and gets 
caught in the snares, but no female ever puts in an appearance 
or is ever thus snared, 



180 THE WHITE-CRESTED KALIJ. 

I have never known this mode of capture resorted to in the 
Himalayas, the reason being, I believe, the difficulty that exists 
in taming the present species. 

Wilson continues : — 

" It feeds on roots, grubs, insects, seeds and berries, and the 
leaves and shoots of shrubs. It is rather difficult to rear in 
confinement when caught old ; and the few chicks I have tried 
have also soon died, though possibly from want of proper care 
and attention. It is singular that, of the Hill Pheasants, the 
one most common near the habitations of man should so ill 
brook the loss of liberty, while the Jewar (Ceriornis melanoce- 
phalus)> the most retired and solitary of all, is the most easily 
reconciled to it. 

" In the lower hills, in the absence of larger game, this bird 
may serve to wile away a few hours of the sportsman's time 
in almost every place where there is wood or jungle ; narrow 
well-wooded ravines and thickets of low jungles are the places 
in which to seek it. A good dog is essential ; and without one, 
though a bird may be occasionally picked up, it is hardly worth 
while going out. In travelling in the interior, a dog used to 
hill-shooting should always, if available, be brought ; and with 
its assistance a few Kalij may be bagged in some of the 
coppices and jungle passed through almost every day's march, 
till the regions where larger game is expected are reached." 

Captain J. H. Baldwin makes some very correct original 
remarks in regard to this species, which I take the liberty of 
quoting : — 

" Its favourite habitat is among thick clumps of bushes and 
shrubs near the banks of rivers, in low valleys through which 
streams of water run, and on the slopes of hills where there is 
plenty of low bush cover, especially thorny thickets bordering 
on cultivation ; in the early morning, the vicinity of an old de- 
serted cow-shed is a sure resort of this bird if anywhere in the 
neighbourhood. I have flushed this Pheasant and the common 
red Jungle Fowl from the same description of cover at the foot 
of the hills. The call of the bird, which may be heard at all 
times of the day, is a sharp twut, tivut, tzvut, sometimes very 
low, with a long pause between each note, then suddenly in- 
creasing loudly and excitedly. Generally speaking, when utter- 
ing this cry, which at times might be mistaken by any one un- 
acquainted with it for that of some small bird, the Kalij is 
alarmed by a prowling Marten or Hawk hovering overhead, per- 
haps a dog, but still oftener it is heard when a pair of cocks are 
about to engage in mortal combat. 

" Not unfrequently a cunning old cock, instead of taking wing 
at once when the dog is close upon him, has a provoking habit, 
most irritating to both dog and master, of flying up into a tree, 
making a prodigious clucking the while, and at the same time 
taking a look round to see if the coast is clear. The bird in this 



THE WHITE-CRESTED KALIJ. l8l 

manner often observes where the gun is posted, and then takes 
wing in a safe direction. 

" The Kalij Pheasant, when alarmed, will generally fly down 
the khad, and will often take along the side of the hill. Though 
it will run, yet it will hardly everjfy up hill. Its speed when 
well on the wing is amazing, greater frequently, I am certain, 
than any rocketer out of an English cover. 

" When not bullied by the hill men, they will come close up 
to the backs of villages, especially if there are fields of corn at 
hand. I have shot them out of standing crops when the fields 
are situated near the jungle." 

Referring to the whirring sound they make most commonly, 
but not exclusively, in the breeding season, he says : — 

" We had been sitting motionless for, I suppose, half an hour, 
when I was startled, all of a sudden, by the loud drumming 
noise I have already described close at hand. The sound came 
from behind, and on looking over my shoulder, my companion 
with a smile pointed out the drummer. An old cock Kalij was 
squatting on the stump of a fallen tree, and, with its feathers all 
ruffled and tail spread, was causing this extraordinary sound by 
rapidly beating its wings against its body." 

As regards this last, it is no doubt difficult to see how the bird 
makes the peculiar sound referred to ; the wings are kept in 
such rapid vibration that you can only see a haze, but I myself 
think that the wings are not struck against the body, and that 
the sound is merely caused by the extremely rapid movement 
of the wings, through the tensely strung feathers of which the 
air hurtles. 

Another writer notices a very characteristic habit this species 
has, where a good deal shot at, of flying up, when disturbed, into 
some tree, and there remaining perched motionless in some fork, 
or dense patch of foliage, or upright against the trunk, so that 
it is almost impossible to see it. You walk round and round, 
you throw stones, but nothing appears ; suddenly some one 
catches sight of it, that same instant it drops like a stone from 
its perch always with the trunk between it and the gun, and is 
off down the ravine without a single call or flutter, before 
you even know that it has been sighted. 

Though Wilson does not notice it, they feed greedily on 
grain, and my people at Kotgarh used to snare numbers 
in the winter, by little heaps of grain laid in fields where 
on previous mornings they had been noticed feeding. Mons. 
Chauveau, Bishop of Sevastopol, but stationed at Ta-tsienlon, 
on the Chinese and Tibetan frontier, tells us, that Lady 
Amherst's Pheasants are there so wide awake that, on 
discovering such a bait, they suspect a snare, and try to brush 
away the grain with their immense long tails, and thus eat it in 
safety. Our Theasants arc not quite so advanced in civilization 
as these Chinese ones. 



1 82 THE WHITE-CRESTED KALIJ. 

Colonel Tickell and other writers assert that the Kalij is poly- 
gamous. This may be the case in some places, but I can only 
say that hundreds of times in August and September I have 
put up a pair with their young brood, and that from May to 
October I have rarely found an old female without finding a 
male somewhere near, and vice versa. 

In a wild state this Pheasant sometimes interbreeds with 
other species. I myself shot a male which could only have been 
a cross with a Koklass, and, what is still more surprising, Col. 
Fisher writes : — "I once came across a bird of this species with 
the head, neck, and crest of a Kalij, but the back and alternate 
feathers of the tail most unmistakeably those of the Moonal. 
I skinned the bird and made the specimen over to an English 
Naturalist some 20 years ago." 



The Common Kalij breeds everywhere in the Himalayas, 
south of the first snowy ranges (and occasionally in the 
Dhuns and Tarais that fringe their bases and in the Siwaliks) 
from the borders of Afghanistan to those of Nepal, 

I have found eggs in the Dhun as early as the 4th April, and 
at Simla as late as the 20th June. They breed at all elevations 
from the level of the Tarai (where it may be 1,200 feet above 
the sea-level) up to fully 8,000 feet. 

They are not very particular as to choice of locality, but more 
or less inhabited and thinly forest-clad tracts, with pretty 
dense undergrowth, are usually chosen ; little densely-bushed 
watercourses on the sides of hills, moderately thickly or some- 
what thinly covered with oak and rhododendron forest, and in 
the neighbourhood of fields, being much affected. 

The Common Kalij hardly forms a regular nest. It usually 
gets together a sort of pad, sometimes rather massive, more 
commonly very slight, of dead leaves, fine grass and coarse 
moss-roots, mingled with a little grass or a few sprigs of 
moss, and in a slight depression in the centre of this it 
lays its eggs. One which I measured in situ in May 1871, 
in the valley of the Sutlej just below Kotgarh, was circular, 
1 1 -5 inches in diameter and 4 in thickness outside, with a 
central depression 6 inches wide and nearly 2 inches in depth in 
the centre. Others, again, have been mere linings to a slight 
hollow in the ground, either natural or scratched by the birds ; 
I have seen a great many nests of this species, and they were 
generally very scanty. The nest is usually well concealed under 
tufts of fern (they are very fond of fern-clad hill sides), grass, 
or " ringal," as the natives call the slender dwarf hill-bamboos. 

I have never found more than nine eggs myself, but I have 
had as many as thirteen brought me by natives, said to have 
been found in one nest. As a rule, I do not think they lay more 
than nine eggs, and certainly one rarely sees more than eight or 
nine young birds with a pair of old ones. 



THE WHITE-CRESTED KALIJ. 183 

The female sits for rather over three weeks, and during this 
period may often be captured by hand or seized by a dog on 
her nest. The male is always close at hand, and if the hen be 
disturbed by a dog, will fly into a tree above him and commence 
a threatening cackle — both parents continue with the young ones 
till these are nearly full grown. Such at least is my experience. 

From Native Garhwal Mr. Wilson writes to me : — " The Kalij 
is found from the foot of the hills, or rather from the Siwalik 
Range to the Snows, and consequently breeds at all elevations 
up to 9,000 feet ; in a few localities still higher. I lately found 
a nest above the village of Sukhi in the Bhagirathi Valley, 
which must have been at 9,500 feet. In the Dhun, at the foot 
of the hills and in the lower valleys, the Kalij begins to lay in 
April. In the higher ranges it lays in May, and some birds not 
till the beginning or middle of June. The nest, if it can be 
called such, is generally in a coppice where there is plenty of 
underwood, and under an overhanging stone, or thick low bush 
or tuft of grass. It is merely a hole scraped in the ground. 
The eggs are nine to fourteen in number, very like those of some 
domestic fowls, a yellowish or buffy white. One I have before 
me is 2 inches long and 1*5 wide ; some are rounder ; one from 
another nest is 2 - o long and 1*62 wide. Both parent birds are 
generally found with the young brood. Occasionally very late 
broods would lead one to infer, either that the Kalij sometimes 
has two broods in the year, or that, when a nest is destroyed, 
they recommence the business of incubation." 

Captain Hutton remarks : " This species, the Kalij of the hill- 
men, is found in the hills at all seasons, and is common at every 
elevation up to the snows. It breeds in May and June. In 
the latter month I found a nest by the side of a small water- 
course composed merely of a few dead leaves and some dry 
grasses, which had probably been accumulated by the wind and 
tempted the bird to deposit her eggs upon them. The spot was 
concealed by large overhanging ferns, and contained the shells 
of eight eggs of a sullied or faint brownish-white, like some 
hen's eggs ; the tops of all were neatly cut off as if by a knife, 
showing that the young ones had escaped, and, singular enough, 
I had the day before captured the whole brood." 

Captain Cock, writing from Dharmsala, says : " The Com- 
mon Kalij breeds in May and June, and lays its eggs, as a 
rule, on the ground under a rock or bush ; but I have taken a 
nest on a large low bough of a tree, in a hollow on the upper 
side of which the eggs were placed. The hen will allow herself 
to be caught on her nest at times. Lays eight eggs of a buff 
colour." 

The eggs are oval, moderately elongated, a good deal pointed 
towards one end, perhaps typically less so than those of the 
Grey Partridge, more so than those of the Peahen, but belong- 
ing to that type, and not to that of the Francolin's or English 



1 84 THE WHITE-CRESTED KALIJ. 

Pheasant's. The eggs are always glossy, sometimes highly so, 
and the surface is generally very finely and closely pitted with 
minute pores like those of the Pea- Fowl's egg on a diminutive 
scale. In some specimens these are pretty conspicuous, but in 
the majority they are only noticeable on close inspection, and 
in some they appear almost entirely wanting. The eggs vary 
in colour from a very pale creamy or buffy white to a rich reddish 
buff, even richer and redder than any specimens of the Pea- 
Fowl's eggs that I have yet seen ; though such may doubtless 
occur, I have not yet seen a specimen freckled or mottled as 
Pea-Fowl's eggs occasionally are, though I have seen some 
pretty thickly speckled with minute white spots. 

In length the eggs vary from 1*85 to 2*03, and in breadth from 
1*25 to 1*52 ; but the average of fifty eggs is 1*94 by 1*44. 



The following are the dimensions, &c, of the White-Crested 
Kalij :— 

Males. — Length, 24*0 to 290; expanse, 2875 to 32*0; wing, 
87 to iO"0 ; tail from vent, I0'2 to I3'0; tarsus, 2*9 to 3*1 ; bill 
from gape, 1*3 to 1*55. Weight, 2lbs. to 2 lbs. 6 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 20'0 to 23*0 ; expanse, 24*5 to 27*2 ; wing, 
8*0 to 8*3 ; tail from vent, 7*8 to 9*0 ; tarsus, 2*6 to 2*8 ; bill from 
gape, i*2 to 1*3, Weight, 1 lb. 4 ozs. to 2 lbs. 4 ozs. 

The irides are orange brown ; the bare eye-patch bright scarlet 
to deep crimson, dotted over with numerous tiny tufts of abor- 
tive black feathers ; the bill greenish white, dusky at tip ; the 
legs and feet livid white, with a purplish or brownish tinge, 
varying to pale grey brown, often with an olive tinge. 



The Plate gives a tolerable idea of the bird, though neither 
bills nor legs and feet are quite correctly coloured, while the male 
seems to have lost his own tail and borrowed one from a neigh- 
bour when he sat for his portrait. 



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Euplocamus leucomelanus, Latham. 



VeraaCUlar ITaiaeS.— [Kalich, Kalij (Perbuttia), Rechabo, (Bhutia) Nepal.] 




T is very amusing to look back on the past literature 
of these Kalij Pheasants. 

We find Adams (P. Z. S., 1858, 499) doubting whe- 
ther there is more than one. He says : " melanonottis, 
Blyth, comes very close to albocristatics, but has 
not the white markings on the crest and back ; yet 
the species is subject to variety ; so much so that it is 
questionable if Blyth' s bird is a distinct species." 

Tickell admitted two, but united horsfteldi with melanonotus. 
Blyth admitted three, but following Gray and a host of other 
writers, declared the present species, which we may probably 
call " leucomelanus" a hybrid between the White-crested and 
Black-backed Kalij. 

No species is, however, better establishable than the Nepal 
Kalij. It has a wide but accurately definable range, throughout 
which it retains an uniform plumage, conspicuously distinct 
from that of all the other three species, and within which range 
no other of the allied species occurs. 

Throughout a tract over 350* miles in length, and from 60 to 
100 miles in width, in fact throughout the whole of Nepal, except 
perhaps the extreme easternmost and westernmost portions, 
leucomelanus is the only Kalij that occurs. 

Hodgson notes that he never saw any other bird in Nepal 
except one white-crested one, brought from beyond Jumla, and 
that he had seen hundreds of black-crested ones. He never 
saw melanonotus until he went to Sikhim. Scully, who has been 
some eighteen months in Nepal, whence he brought me some 
twenty specimens of leucomelanus, and where he had examined 
double this number, never saw any species there but this. 

It is a misuse of language to talk of a species like this as a 
hybrid, just as it is to apply the same term to Euplocamus cuvieri, 
which occupies the entire Aracan Hill ranges, and is, I believe, 
the only Pheasant there found. 

* I am well within the mark here, for Nepal is close on 500 miles in length. 

24 



1 86 . THE NEPAL KALIJ. 

It may appear at first sight inconsistent for me to insist on 
dividing the Kalij Pheasants into four species, while I deprecate 
making more than one of the Koklass. 

But the cases are wholly different. In the Koklass my large 
series and all the hundreds of others that I have examined, 
tend to prove that all three forms grade by absolutely insensible 
degrees into each other, and thus form a single undivided 
chain, although the links at either extremity and towards the 
centre differ somewhat in pattern. This unbroken chain con- 
stitutes, according to my views, a single species. 

On the other hand, the four Kalij Pheasants each constitute a 
separate chain. I have never yet seen a single wild-killed speci- 
men bridging over the differences between any two of the four. 
Each has a distinct and wide range, throughout which it is 
invariable, and which, so far as we know, is separated by blanks 
in which no Kalij occurs from the ranges of all the others. 

In regard to this species, Dr. Scully, to whom belongs the 
credit of rehabilitating it, writes : — 

" The adult male of this species differs from G. albocristatus 
in having a small black crest, instead of an ample white one ; 
in the white tips to the feathers of the rump and upper tail- 
coverts being much narrower and further apart ; and in the 
tarsi being more slender. From melanonotus it differs in having 
the rump and upper tail-coverts white tipped ; in the feathers 
of the throat and breast being darker, and more grey ; and in 
having the tarsi much more slender. From horsfieldi it differs 
conspicuously in having the feathers of the throat and breast 
greyish white and lanceolate, instead of pure black and rounded ; 
and in having the rump and upper tail-coverts much more 
narrowly tipped with white. 

" The adult female resembles that of melanonotus much more 
closely than it does those of either albocristatus or horsfieldi. 
It differs from melanonotus in having the feathers of the upper 
surface more broadly margined with greyish white ; the middle 
tail-feathers are more broadly vermicellated, though not so 
prominently as in albocristatus ; the edgings to the feathers of 
the lower surface contrast more, and the rump contrasts more 
with the middle tail-feathers — in this respect recalling horsfieldi, 
but in no other. 

" This bird is no doubt the Phasianus leucomelanus of 
Latham, ' Ind. Orn./ II., 633. Kirkpatrick, in his * Account 
of the Kingdom of Nepal' (181 1, p. 132), gives a good figure 
of this Kalij, showing its distinctive points, viz., black crest, 
white barred lower back, and grey white throat and breast, 
and says : — ' The Kalij is met with in the thickets which 
overrun the gorges of the mountains near Noakote, &c.' Mr. 
Hodgson, curiously enough, seems to have overlooked the dis- 
tinctness of the species. In his drawings, now in Mr. Hume's 
custody, he gives an excellent figure of our bird, but labels it 



the nepal kali;. 187 

Gallophasis albocristatus * (!) an impossible title, seeing that the 
bird has a black crest. In both editions of the B. M. Catalogue 
of Mr. Hodgson's collection (1846 and 1863) Gallophasis 
leucomelanus is entered ; but then albocristatus is added as a 
synonym, which is clearly an error. 

" But it may be, and indeed has been, held that the Nepal 
Kalij is a hybrid between albocristatus and melanonotus. In dis- 
proof of this theory, I can now bring forward ample evidence. 

"The Nepal Kalij is a most interesting species, exactly inter- 
mediate in colouration and in habitat to the White-crested and 
Black-backed Kalij Pheasants, and is possibly the older form 
from which the other two have branched off to west and east 
and become modified. During the two years I resided in Nepal 
I tried in vain, both personally and by the offer of rewards, to 
obtain a specimen of either albocristatus or melanonotus, which, on 
the " hybrid" theory, should have been found there interbreeding. 
I have seen scores of the Nepal Kalij (of which at least thirty 
were adult males), and they were all exactly alike and constant 
to the definition above given of the species, 

" Any one seeing only a single male bird of leucomelanus 
would perhaps naturally conclude that it was a hybrid ; but 
when the two supposed parent species are found to be entirely 
absent from the large tract of country where the Nepal Kalij 
abounds, while the characters of the latter are constant in a 
large series of specimens — the conviction that it is a thoroughly 
good species seems to me to be irresistible. 

" The Nepal Kalij extends to the east nearly as far as the 
Aum I believe, melanonotus being found east of that river only ; 
of the range of our bird to the west I have no certain informa- 
tion, but albocristatus probably replaces it in the extreme 
western portion of the Nepal territories." 



The HABITS and nidification of this species are, of course, 
very similar to those of the other Kalij Pheasants. This species, 
however, would not seem to descend quite so low as the preced- 
ing. Hodgson notes : " This is by far the commonest Pheasant 
in Nepal. Its range is the central region ; it is never found in 
the Tarai, seldom in the Cachar.*f Where Gallus ferrugineus 
ends there the Kalij begins, and extends, though in diminishing 
numbers, to the region of the Moonal and Tragopan. 

Dr. Scully says : — 

" Leucomelanus is common wherever thick forest is found, 
from Hitorna in the Nepal Dun to the Valley of Nepal ; in all 

* There are sevei-al figures, big and little ; but there is also one of true " albo~ 
cristalits" which Mr. Hodgson notes as being the only one of the kind he had seen, 
so that, though he gave no separate name, he did recognize the difference. 

+ This is Mr. Hodgson's name for the more elevated regions of Nepal. Else- 
where the term is applied to low alluvial flats along the banks of the large rivers of 
Continental India. 



1 88 THE NEPAL KALIJ. 

the wooded hills surrounding the latter, up to an elevation of 
nearly 9,000 feet ; and in every forest about Noakote. It is 
usually seen in pairs or in parties of from three to ten, often 
feeding on the ground near cultivated patches at the borders 
of forest. 

" The birds seem very fond of perching on trees, and it is 
usually in this position that one comes across them in forcing 
one's way through forest which has a dense undergrowth. On 
such occasions the Kalij first gives notice of its whereabouts 
by whirring down with great velocity from its perch, and then 
running rapidly out of sight to the shelter of some thicket. 
In the winter the birds roost on trees at the foot of the hills, 
and the plan for making a bag is to post one's self about sunset 
under some trees which they are known to frequent, and await 
their coming. The birds are then soon heard threading their 
way through the jungle towards their favourite trees, and at 
once fly up and perch. When once settled for the night in this 
way, they are not easily alarmed, and I have shot four or five 
birds in quick succession before the rest of the party would 
clear out to quieter quarters. Occasionally, too, one can get a 
shot at the Kalij as they cross a hill path through the forest on 
their way to or from some stream. 

" Great numbers of the Nepal Kalij are snared and brought 
into Khatmandu for sale. The birds bear confinement in the 
valley very well, and I reared several chicks to maturity." 

It may be useful to note that Mr. Hodgson had for two years 
a perfectly /z/r<? white specimen of this species in confinement. 
The irides, orbital skin, legs, feet and bill were all normally 
coloured. The bird was a male, and when it died it was in fine 
plumage. 

MALES MEASURED. — Length, 23*0 to 26*0 (according to tail) ; ex- 
panse, 26*0 to 29-5 ; wing, 87 to 9*2 ; tail from vent, 10*9 to 12*3 ; 
tarsus, 2-8 to 3*05 ; bill from gape, 1*25 to 1*37. Weight, 1 lb. 
12 ozs. to 2 lbs. 8 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 19-3 to 20*5 ; expanse, 25*0 to 27*0 ; wing, 
tZ to 8-5 ; tail, 7*3 to 87 ■ tarsus, 2*3 to 2*9 ; bill from gape, 
Y2 to i -3. Weight, 1 lb. 5 ozs, to 2 lbs. 

The bill is greenish horny, more or less dusky about nostril 
and base of maxilla ; sometimes the bills are slightly greyer ; 
irides usually dark brown, sometimes lighter ; orbital skin fine 
crimson red, and, as in the other species, papillated ; lower eyelid 
grey, with black spots ; legs and feet pale brownish, or dingy 
greyish horny ; the toes usually a little darker than the tarsus ; 
claws brownish horny ; spurs dusky. 



THE Plate seems to call for no special remark, except that 
in fully adult and full-plumaged males, the tails are consider- 
ably larger than here depicted. 



THE NEPAL KALIJ. 1 89 

Dr. Scully's description of a chick of this species is interest- 
ing :— 

" Young. — A chick captured on the 10th of June, whose wing 
measured only two inches, had the feet orange and the bill 
greenish yellow horny ; the head was rufous brown ; the body 
above dark brown ; each feather of the wing-coverts and scapu- 
lars having a blackish subterminal bar, and a fulvous tip ; beneath 
sullied fulvous. Young birds of both sexes about three months 
old resemble the female, but have the bill livid at tip, the orbital 
skin pale fleshy red, and the feet livid brownish. At this stage 
the black subterminal bars on the upper feathers are still well 
marked. The young male assumes the black plumage when 
about five months old (such, at least, was the case in two speci- 
mens I had in confinement) ; but at this age it still shows traces 
of the original brown colour about the feathers of the neck 
and upper back, and in this state it probably represents Latham's 
"Nepal Pheasant" (" Ind. Orn.," IL, 632.) 



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Ill lUlMlilili RAMI. 



Euplocamus melanonotus, BlytK 



VemaClllar Names.— [Muthoora (Bengali), Kirrik (Bhutea), Karrik-pho 
(Lepcha), Sikhim.] 



HROUGHOUT Sikhim, Native and British, the 
Black-backed Kalij occurs in suitable localities ; 
it certainly occurs in the eastern parts of Bhutan, 
whence I saw specimens shot by officers with the 
field force employed there in 1865, and it may occur 
in the easternmost parts of Nepal. How far east it 
gets in Bhutan is quite uncertain. Farther east, 
north of the Darrang district, it was E. horsfieldi, the Eastern 
or Black-breasted Kalij, that was met with by the Daphla force. 




The RANGE of this species is, I think, more restricted than 
that of the White-crested Kalij. It occurs quite at the foot 
of the hills, where I have shot it, and I have seen it occasion- 
ally and heard very often of its occurrence in tea gardens and 
in our Cinchona Plantations up to nearly 6,000 feet, but I have 
heard of no one shooting it up in Moonal ground at 8,000 to 
9,000 feet, and I doubt whether it ascends as high as either of 
the two preceding species. 

Its favourite haunts are ravines, with thick low cover, and 
it appears to me to like the cover of tea bushes quite as well as, 
if not better than, the tangled growth of its native jungles. 

I have had but little personal experience of this species, 
but my friend, Mr. Gammie, furnishes me with the following 
excellent account of it : — 

" In Sikhim the Black-backed Kalij is abundant from about 
1,000 up to 6,000 feet, and it is occasionally found at both lower 
and higher elevations. It frequents forest and scrub, rarely 
coming out to cleared land except in the mornings and even- 
ings to feed, and even then seldom leaving the cover for many 
yards. 

" At no time of the day is it a shy bird, but in the evenings 
and early mornings it is almost as tame as a domestic fowl, 
and, if feeding on the road, will leisurely walk but a few steps 
out of the way of a passer-by. 



192 THE BLACK-BACKED KALIJ. 

"It appears to dislike sunshine, and scarcely leaves the 
shade of trees or shrubs while the sun is up. 

" It seldom, if ever, perches in the day time, but keeps to 
the ground, unless suddenly disturbed by dogs or wild animals, 
when it may take refuge in a tree as a last resource. If alarm- 
ed by men it always runs along under the scrub if the 
circumstances are favourable for that mode of escape ; but if 
not, it flies within twenty feet of the ground for forty or fifty 
yards and then again alights on the ground. By making a short 
detour they will be found close to where they alighted. 

" Usually it is a silent bird, but when suddenly alarmed it 
utters a sharply repeated " koorcki, koorchi, koorchi" as it rises 
on the wing. When, however, the males are in the fighting 
humour — which they usually are about breeding time — their 
call, as they advance towards each other, is " koov koor ; waak 
waak;" the former being the threatening, and the latter the 
attacking note. They also at times answer each other's calls 
in the jungles. 

" In fine weather the male often makes a sharp drumming 
noise by beating his wings against his sides, somewhat after 
the style of the wing flapping of a domestic cock preparatory 
to crowing from some elevated place ; but instead of the cock's 
few leisurely flaps the Kalij strikes oftener and smarter, pro- 
ducing a sound more like drumming than flapping. From the 
same spot he repeats this drumming noise twice or thrice at 
short intervals, but gives no voice along with it. It seems as 
though he was in such joyful mood that he must give expres- 
sion to his delight somehow, but inherited experience had effec- 
tually taught him that any attempt at crowing in the jungles 
was likely to attract the attention of wild beasts, and that he 
must stick to his drumming and leave the crowing part to 
the domestic cock who can safely indulge in that amusement. 

" The natives look on the drumming of the Kalij as a sure 
sign of approaching rain. It is heard at all seasons of the 
year, but most frequently before the setting in of the rainy 
season ; at other times generally just before a fall of rain. 

" The food of the Kalij is varied in the extreme. It eats 
almost everything in the shape of seeds, fruit, and insects, but 
is particularly fond of the larvae of beetles out of cowdung and 
decayed wood, and of several of the jungle yams which bear 
tubers along their vines at the axils of the leaves. When the 
vine-borne tubers are exhausted, it will scratch away the soil to 
get at those underground. 

' ' Natives who have kept them alive say they thrive excel- 
lently on yams and grubs only, but that no insect comes amiss 
to them except ants. It is also very partial to all kinds of grain 
from the fields adjoining its cover, seeds of the Erythrina and 
cucurbitous plants, the young tops of several nettles and 
ferns, and the fruit of numerous plants, especially of the Totney 



THE BLACK-BACKED KALIJ. 193 

{Polygonum molle) and the yellow Raspberry {Rubus flavus), two 
shrubs which yield more bird-food in Sikhim than do any other 
dozen kinds of plants put together. 

" The Black-backed Kalij is too tame and too fond of keeping 
to the ground to afford much sport. It can use its legs so much 
better than it can its wings that, unless very hard pressed, it 
trusts entirely to the former, and they are worthy of its con- 
fidence, for they can bear it over the ground with surprising 
rapidity. The cover it affects is usually so dense and so full 
of creepers, that a dog can scarcely make headway in it, and 
has but little chance of outrunning it and forcing it to rise. 
Sometimes six or eight are found in one covey, but usually 
not more than three or four. 

" A full grown male weighs about 2j^ lbs. The flesh is rather 
poor eating." 

As supplementary to this I may add that Beavan says that 
this species is " common about Darjeeling, at all elevations 
between 2,000 and 7,000 feet, and also occurs abundantly in 
the interior of Sikhim. I procured feral specimens of this 
bird on one occasion in a ravine below Pankabari, at the 
very foot of the hills ; on another in Major Wardroper's planta- 
tion at Darjeeling (about 6,000 feet), and found them abundant 
at Rinchingpoong in Sikhim (from 5,000 to 6,000 feet), where, 
when put up by a dog, they took to trees and were easily shot. 
They roost on the same bough every night ; and consequently 
the exact locality is easily found by the number of white 
droppings which accumulate on the ground below. They were 
generally met with in pairs or small parties of three and four." 

Colonel Tickell remarks that the only way he ever succeeded 
in shooting the Black-backed Kalij without dogs to help him 
" has been by going at early dawn along the paths used by 
travellers before any one was up or stirring near the station. 
In such spots, before the daylight has become too decided, 
or any passenger has broken the stillness of the mountain side, 
the Hill Pheasants are sure to be met with, picking and scratch- 
ing about the dung scattered on the road ; but creep as silently 
and swiftly as you will, peep round the corner with the stealth 
of a Red Indian, and have your gun full-cocked and almost 
at the shoulder, yet ten to one this keen-eyed bird sees you first, 
and you get your shot as he is diving into a thicket, and 
succeed probably in merely knocking off a few feathers." 

He also tells us that " all three species of Kalij have the same 
notes. When unmolested, or quietly turning up the leaves and 
scratching the ground for food, they emit a frequent gentle 
cluck, a little sharper than that of a domestic hen, and occasion- 
ally these clucks are rapidly repeated, and end in a louder, shriller 
screech or chirrup, which constitutes the crow or call of the 
cock bird. If suddenly flushed, it rises with a loud harsh 
chuckle or cackle." 

25 



194 THE BLACK-BACKED KALIJ. 

The breeding season lasts for several months. 

Quite low down, at elevations of two thousands feet or so, they 
lay as early as the end of March ; at four or five thousand 
feet eggs may be looked for about the middle of May, and 
towards the higher limits, 6,000 to 7,000 feet, they lay in June, 
and eggs, much incubated it is true, have been found as late 
as the end of July. 

They seem never to make a nest ; at any rate, of the dozen 
odd clutches reported to me, none were found in any constructed 
nest ; three were found in little clumps of grass at the feet of 
tea-bushes, and the rest amidst dead leaves and moss, a little 
scratched away, under the cover of bushes or tufts of ferns cr 
at the base of overhanging rocks. 

On some tea-gardens, the eggs are unfortunately constantly 
found by the coolies and destroyed ; the whole Tarai, and the 
whole of the exterior hills, are becoming a sea of tea ; the 
Black-backed Kalij is not nearly so common in the interior 
as in the outer hills ; and I expect that, within a few years, this 
species will become comparatively rare. 

Ten seems to be the full number of eggs ; at least this is the 
largest clutch reported to me. 

The eggs are, of course, of the regular game fowl type, varying 
very much in size and shape (some being much broader, others 
more oval) as also in tint, some being more gamey than others. 
Colonel Tickell, however, could never have seen the eggs laid by 
ivild birds, when he described them as white. This they never 
are, but they riug the changes from pale pinky creamy, and 
pale cafeati lait, to a rich cafe with little milk in it. 

A nest obtained near Darjeeling in July contained six eggs 
of the usual Kalij type, that is to say, broad regular ovals, but 
little compressed towards the small end, of a decided cafe an 
lait tinge ; the shell strong and hard ; the surface everywhere 
covered with minute pits, but withal fairly glossy. 

Of two nests obtained at the close of March by Mr. Gammie 
at elevations of 2,000 and 3,000 feet, in the neighbourhood 
of Darjeeling, the eggs of the one were a rich pinky cafe a? 1 lait 
(one of them showing a good deal of pure white mottling), 
and of the other a rather warm buffy stone colour. 

The eggs seem to vary from 179 to fully 2 inches in length, 
and from 1*4 to 1-54 in breadth ; but the average of a large 
series is 1*91 by 1*47. 



I HAVE measured but few of these birds, and my figures 
therefore will probably need additions. 

Males. — Length, 2ro to 25*0; expanse, 26*5 to 29*0 ; wing, 
8-9 to 9-5 ; tail from vent, 9*5 to 12*3 ; tarsus, 3*05 to 3-2 ; bill 
from gape, 1*28 to 1-36. Weight, 2 lbs. 6 ozs. to 2 lbs 12 ozs. 



THE BLACK-BACKED KALIJ. 195 

Females. — Length, 18*0 to 21*0; expanse, 25*0 to 27*0 ; wing, 
8*1 to 8*8 ; tail from vent, 7*5 to 8*6; tarsus, 27 to 2'9 ; bill 
from gape, 1*15 to 1*25. Weight, 1 lb. 14 ozs. to 2 lbs. 4 ozs. 

The bill is yellowish or greenish horny, pale yellowish at tip, 
dark at base ; legs and feet pale horny brown ; claws and spurs 
often with a more fleshy tinge ; irides bright orange brown 
to dark brown ; orbital skin bright red. 



The Plate. — As usual the colours of the bill, legs, and feet are 
not quite correct ; and the plate fails to convey an adequate 
idea of the lustrous blue black of the male's upper plumage. 



JU 



in liiiMiiaii n k 

Euplocamus horsfieldi, G. R. Gray 



Vernacular Names.— [Do-reek, Dibrugarh; Durug, Dirrik, Gdro Hills 
Motoora (Khasi), Sylhet ; Mathura, Chittagong.'] 




HE exact western and eastern limits of this species 
are still somewhat undefined. It is plentiful in 
Cachar and around the bases of, and up to four 
thousand feet elevation on, the Khasi and Garo Hills, 
and thence eastwards in suitable localities right up 
the Valley of Assam to beyond Sadiya, our eastern- 
most point, whence I have several specimens. It 
has been met with in the low outer hills of Eastern Bhutan, and 
further east in the lower ranges of the Daphla Hills. It is 
common in Sylhet and also in Hill Tipperah, whence I have 
specimens, and again in Northern Chittagong, where Sanderson 
found it plentiful in the Chengree Valley. It very possibly is 
also found in Southern Chittagong and the extreme north of 
Aracan, but I cannot find satisfactory evidence of this. 

I do not know of its occurrence in Mymensing or Dacca, 
and I believe that, from Dhubri to the sea, the Brahmaputra 
constitutes its western boundary. 



The RANGE of this species is decidedly lower than that of 
either of the other three ; it is common down in the low 
country along the edges of cultivation and the banks of 
rivers where there is forest, only a few hundred feet above sea 
level, but it grows less plentiful, I am assured, as you ascend 
the hills, and is very rarely shot at elevations exceeding 4,000 
feet. 

I have no personal knowledge of the species. Writing from 
Dilkhusha in North-East Cachar, Mr. Inglis remarks : " These 
Pheasants are pretty common in this neighbourhood. They 
affect forest jungle with an open bottom, and are most often met 
with along the banks of rivers, where they feed morning and 
evening, retiring into cover during the heat of the day. They 
only occasionally show themselves on the rice fields adjoining 
cover. I have seen as many as eight together, although they are 
more often observed in pairs or singly. Their food consists of 
wild berries or fruits, beetles and other insects. 

" They afford fair sport with dogs by hunting round the edges 
of places they frequent. They rise with a loud whirr, emitting 



198 THE BLACK-BREASTED KALIJ. 

a shrill cheep, cheep, cheep, and very often settle on the trees. 
Their flesh is very white when cooked, but greatly inferior to 
that of the Common Jungle Fowl. A good cock weighs about 
3lbs. ; the hen is slightly smaller. 

" They retire deeper into the jungle to breed, and the young 
are hatched early in May. I have never seen their nest." 

Mr. R. A. Clark, of the Mynadhar Tea Garden in Cachar, says : 
" These birds are very common here, keeping to well-wooded hills 
and ravines. They go about in pairs, though parties of three and 
four are often met with, and on one occasion I saw a party of 
eleven ; they breed in the dense forests, making a nest on the 
ground. I have never myself seen a nest, but the Kookies have 
repeatedly brought me clutches of eggs, never more than four 
in each nest, which I have repeatedly set under domestic fowls ; 
the chicks were often hatched, but never could be reared. 

" The male birds are used as decoys by the Kookies, who 
fix nooses in the form of a square enclosing the decoy, (which 
is tied to a peg by the leg), and watching from a little distance 
secure any bird that may be noosed. 

" I once witnessed a fight between a male Kalij and a Jungle 
Cock (G. ferruginous) for the possession of a white-ant hill 
from which the winged termites were issuing. I watched the 
contest for a quarter of an hour, by which time both birds were 
exhausted, when the Kalij fled, leaving the Jungle Cock in 
possession. On another occasion I came across a pair of 
male Kalij fighting amongst a lot of ferns ; they were so taken 
up with their own affairs that they did not notice my having 
approached to within 15 yards ; I let them go on for ten minutes, 
and then went up and caught both ; they were quite exhausted ; 
the feathers from the head and neck had all been knocked off, 
and the latter was bleeding in both birds. 

"The adult birds are tough, but the pullets are very fair 
eating." 

Mr. Cripps writes : — 

" The northern part of the District of Sylhet is covered with 
low ' teelahs' or hillocks, between which run small brooks, the 
whole being overgrown with dense tree, bamboo, and cane 
jungle, forming dark, damp retreats, such as are the favourite 
resorts of this species. 

" Here they scratch about amongst the fallen leaves for 
insects, and towards evening and in the early morning stray into 
any adjacent patches of cultivation, or are to be found feeding 
about the roadsides where these lie within the forests. 

"Although one may now and then shoot a bird or two, their 
retiring disposition and the nature of the haunts they affect 
equally prevent their affording much sport in the localities 
in which alone I have observed them. To the same causes 
are due my ignorance of their habits. In their wild state one 
gets only a momentary glimpse of them, and though the eggs 



THE BLACK-BREASTED KALIJ. 199 

hatch readily under domestic hens, the chicks somehow cannot 
be reared, and adults confined, as I have seen many in Sylhet 
remain to the last as wild as when captured, destroying their 
plumage, and ultimately, generally, wearing themselves out in 
their persistent and unintelligent efforts to escape. 

" The Khasias, who call them ' Motooral snare numbers with 
horse-hair nooses. 

" On no occasion have I seen more than four birds together ; 
but they are generally seen in pairs." 

Later, writing from Khowang in Dibrugarh, he says : — 

" Here the Do-reek, as the Assamese call it, is very common 
and far more accessible than in Sylhet. Morning and evening 
the birds are to be seen feeding on all the roads and paths, and 
allowing a near approach if the sportsman stoops low and 
advances sharply. 

" Their food consists, I find, of berries, grain extracted from 
the droppings of horses, all kinds of tender shoots and worms." 



This SPECIES lays mostly in April and May, but nests may be 
found towards the close of March and well into June. 

My friend Mr. Cripps found a nest on the 29th March 1875 
in Sylhet, and caught the female sitting on it. " The nest," 
he says, " was composed of a heap of dried leaves, a foot in 
diameter and about six inches in height ; the egg cavity was 
5 by 4 ; no lining ; the eggs were four in number and perfectly 
fresh ; the site chosen was at the foot of a large tree standing 
on a piece of flat land between two hillocks." 

Again, writing from Khowang, he remarks : — 

" On the 22nd March 1879, while cutting forest for charcoal 
burning, I came across two fresh eggs. The nest was made of 
dry leaves, which the bird had scraped into a hollow in the ground 
at the root of a tree, and within six feet of a jungle path, along 
which my coolies had been passing for days. On that day the 
men were felling trees all round, and the hen bird did not fly 
off until the axe was laid on to the tree at the root of which 
her nest was. There was no lining. The ground around was 
low and damp." 

The only eggs that I have seen of this species were those 
sent me from these nests by Mr. Cripps ; they are of the usual 
Kalij type, very regular, rather broad ovals (in fact of the 
usual hen's egg shape), with rather strong and coarse shells, 
very conspicuously pitted all over with minute pores and with 
a faint gloss. In colour they vary from pale buff to a warm rich 
cafe an lait. 

In length these few eggs vary from rS to vg ; and in breadth 
from 1 -45 to 1*5 ; but, doubtless, a good series would show 
much greater variations. 



200 THE BLACK-BREASTED KALIJ. 

Of THIS SPECIES, also, I have but few measurements recorded 
in the flesh : — 

Males (3). — Length, 23*0, 24*0, 24*8 ; expanse, 29*5, 30*0, 
30*4 ; wing, 9*0, 9*6, io*o ; tail from vent, 9*0, io*o, 1075 ; 
tarsus, 3*2, 3*25 ; bill from gape, 1*37, 1*5 ; spur, 075 to ro. 
Weight, 2 lbs. 14 ozs., 3lbs. 

Females (2). — Length, 21*0, 22*5 ; expanse, 26*0, 29*0; wing, 
8*5, 9*o; tail from vent, 775, 8*5; tarsus, 3-0, 3*05; bill from 
gape, 1*15, 1*3. Weight, 2 lbs. 6 ozs. 

The irides are reddish brown ; the legs and feet vary from 
plumbeous, or leaden blue, to light horny, in some browner, in 
some more fleshy; the bill greenish horny, paler at tip, dusky 
towards the base ; nude orbital skin crimson. 



The Plate, as usual, fails to exhibit the natural tints of the 
bill and legs, but otherwise the picture of the male is fair. 



THERE IS some difficulty in discriminating the females of the 
several Kalij Pheasants, and I cannot say that I think our 
plates will much facilitate their determination. Dr. Scully, in 
his note already quoted, has dwelt upon the differences which 
characterize the female of the Nepal bird, and I will endeavour to 
explain briefly how the females of the other three species differ. 
Generally it may be said that the females of albocristatus 
are lighter, those of melanonotus darker, and those of horsfieldi 
more rufescent. In albocristatus, the crest of the female, when 
fully developed, is generally longer and greyer than in either of 
the other two ; the tail-feathers are less rufescent, and much 
more boldly vermicellated ; the pale tippings to the breast- 
feathers and coverts contrast much less strongly, as a rule, than 
do the similar tippings in melanonotus. In melanonotus, the rump 
and upper tail-coverts, as a rule, harmonize well with the central 
tail-feathers. In horsfieldi, the former are much lighter and 
more olive, the latter darker and more ferruginous, and thus 
contrast together strongly. As a rule, the central tail-feathers of 
horsfieldi are almost perfectly plain, and are deep ferruginous ; 
those of melanonotus deep brown, with a ferruginous tinge, and 
feebly vermicellated ; those of albocristatus olive brown, with 
only a faint ferruginous tinge, and boldly vermicellated ; but 
none of these points hold absolutely good ; and though by 
bearing all in mind any specimen can be discriminated at once, 
I have failed, after examining a large series, to detect any one 
single constant difference in the dry skins that can, by itself, 
be relied on to separate specimens. 



mi mmm num mkamuot, 

Euplocamus cuvieri, Temminck. 

Vernacular Names,— [Rat, Aracan ; Yit (Burmese) Aracan}. 




fFT has been customary to consider this species a 
hybrid, between the Eastern Kalij and the Vermi- 
cellated Pheasant. 

That it is an intermediate form between these two, 
and in many respects resembles both, may be freely 
conceded, but the term hybrid cannot, with any 
propriety of language, be applied to a permanent 
species, the sole inhabitant of its class of a vast tract of country 
in which neither of the species occurs of which it is alleged 
to be a hybrid. 

By hybrids we understand, when speaking of wild animals, 
a form, the offspring of two parents of different species, not 
a persistent race occupying a large tract of country, in which 
parents and offspring are all precisely alike. 

It may be that both present many features in common with 
two other species, but this affords no support for the unscien- 
tific theory of inter-breeding or hybridism which has been so 
constantly put forward in cases like the present. 

The true explanation of the cases which this theory is meant 
to explain is simply this : If, in one region A, we find one 
form a, and in a neighbouring region B, we find a nearly allied 
form b, and somewhere between the two regions, A and B, or 
where they inosculate, we find a third form, which we will call 
c, intermediate between a and b, then this form is clearly due, I 
submit, not to the inter-breeding of a and b, but to the fact that 
the physical conditions of existence, which in A determined 
the form #, and in B the form b, are at the confines of these 
regions intermediate in character, and have, therefore, given 
rise to form c intermediate between a and b. 

In this present case, the alleged hybrid is, so far as we 
know, the sole Pheasant of the class occurring for a length 
of fully 300 miles in the Aracan Hills. Whether it occurs 
outside these hills and the forests at their bases, is uncertain. 
In British Burma it is replaced directly we descend to the 
valley of the Irrawaddy by E. lineatus, but it may extend into 

26 



202 THE ARACAN SILVER PHEASANT. 

the hilly southern portions of Chittagong and into the western 
portions of Independent Burma. 

It may be useful to specify clearly how this species does 
partake of the characters of the other two. 

In the males the entire lower surface is streakless, as in the 
Eastern or Black-breasted Kalij ; there are no white central 
stripes to any of the feathers, some of the lateral tail-feathers 
have nearly lost the white markings. The tips of the neck 
feathers show glossy blue black patches, similar to those in* 
the Eastern Kalij, though the rest of the feathers are freckled, 
as in the Vermicellated Pheasant. Everywhere on the upper 
surface the white frecklings are coarser and further apart than 
in this latter, and all the lower back, rump, and upper tail- 
covert feathers, though freckled as in it, are fringed at the tips 
with white, as in the Kalij. In the female the white stripes 
on the lower surface are greatly reduced in breadth, are buffy 
in colour, and are almost entirely confined to the breast. The 
white arrow-head markings of the back and sides of the neck 
and upper back of the female Vermicellated Pheasant are entirely 
wanting. Many of the coverts and the longer scapulars exhibit 
the conspicuous crescentic white tippings characteristic of 
the Kalij. In other respects, however, the female agrees with 
that of neither species. The whole back and wings are a more 
or less rich, rufous-olivaceous brown, everywhere closely 
freckled with blackish brown. The tail is rufous, pale on the 
central tail-feathers, deep chestnut on the four exterior pairs, 
the others intermediate ; the chestnut feathers freckled on the 
inner webs only ; the others on both webs, with blackish brown. 



I HAVE vainly endeavoured to obtain any information as to 
the haunts or habits of this species. 

A certain place has been said to be paved with good inten- 
tions, but the broken promises of specimens and information 
for this work, on the strength of which it was mainly under- 
taken, must, I should think, have contributed appreciably to 
that pavement. 



I HAVE no measurements, and the only specimens I own, I 
have never seen, as these were sent home to be figured by 
Dr. Anderson, who, with the permission of our Zoological 
Society here, most kindly presented them to me for this work. 



THE Plate has not yet arrived, though I hope it may in 
time to appear in this volume. 



(Slip to face page 202 J 



By some unlucky mistake a pair of E. horsfieldi, reached the 
artist's hands, in place of the intended, and widely different, 
E. cuvieri. The consequence is, that the plate facing our 
article on this latter species, though lettered E. cuvieri, is merely 
a duplicate plate of E. horsfieldi. We hope in a future volume 
to give a plate of the real E. cuvieri. 



***WsiS 




IIJJI @ 



Euplocamus crawfurdi, J. E. Gray. 



Vernacular Names.— [Yit, upper Burma 




HIS bird is very closely allied to the well-known 
E. lineatus, the Vermicellated Pheasant. 

The characteristic points in which typical craw- 
furdi differs from lineatus, are, first, the much coarser 
and bolder character of the markings of the upper 
surface, which are all longitudinal, more or less 
parallel to the margins of the feathers, which are 
entirely free from the fine, more or less transverse ; markings or 
mottling characteristic of lineatus ; second, in the whole of the 
central tail-feathers, except just the tip and the margins of the 
inner webs, being boldly variegated black and white, instead of, 
as in lineatus, almost the whole of the inner webs and the ter- 
minal half, at any rate, of the outer webs being white or sullied 
white, free from markings, and such markings as exist on the 
basal portions being fine. 

I do not attach any importance to the supposed less amount 
of white striation on the under surface of crawfurdi, because I 
have specimens of lineatus in which every single feather of the 
breast, abdomen, and sides has a more or less broad white shaft 
stripe, and others again in which only two or three feathers on 
the extreme sides of the breast show any traces of this. 

Very little is known of this species ; we procured a single 
specimen at Dargwin, in the hills at the north-east extremity of 
Tenasserim proper, immediately south of which it is replaced by 
E. lineatus. It was procured by Dr. Anderson on the confines 
of Upper Burma and Yunan. How far it extends eastwards, 
into Karenee, the Shan States, and the north of Siam and 
China, is unknown. 



IN ITS HABITS it probably differs in no respect from the 
Vermicellated Pheasant, and is, we may conclude, a bird of the 
hill forests, descending into broken and wooded country 
immediately at their bases. 



204 CRAWFURD'S SILVER PHEASANT. 

We MEASURED one single specimen in the flesh : — 

Male. — Length, 30*0 ; expanse, 3275 ; tail from vent, 13*5 ; 

wing, n*5 ; tarsus, 3*62 ; bill from gape, 1*55. Weight, 275 lbs. 
The legs and feet were dark pinkish fleshy ; the bill pale 

bluish horny ; the facial skin deep crimson ; the irides brown. 



The Plate. — Bill and feet utterly miscoloured, though the very 
note just given was attached to the specimen sent to the artist. 
In other respects the plate does indicate to a certain extent the 
difference between the coarse bold markings of this present 
species and the excessively fine vermicellations of the next. 



Our Plate is labelled E. andersoni ; I consider, with Dr. 
Sclater, that it should take Mr. Gray's name, founded on one of 
Crawfurd's drawings. But many consider this identification 
doubtful, and if it be not accepted, the species will stand as 
labelled on the plate. 



we «&?: ■>" 



■fm 




till v naoetoMT n reat« 



Euplocamus lineatus, Vigors. 



Vernacular Nam©S.— [Yit, Kayit (Burmese), Synldouk, (Taken), Phoogyk, 
(Karen), Burma.] 




O far as is yet known, the Vermicellated Pheasant is 
confined to Pegu, Tenasserim, north of Tavoy, the 
south-western portions of Independent Burma, and 
the north-western portions of Siam.* How far east it 
! goes in Siam is still uncertain, but it has been 
brought from close to Chieng Mai (Zimme). It 
does occur west of the Irrawaddy River in places, in low 
hills, but not out of the Irrawaddy Valley. Directly the Ara- 
can Yoma is reached, E. cuvieri alone is found. How far it 
extends along the valley of the Irrawaddy into Independent 
Burma has yet to be ascertained. 



It is not a bird of high elevations ; I have no record of its 
having been seen even as high as 4,500 feet ; it appears to be 
most numerous at from 1,000 to 3,000 feet, though it certainly 
occurs as high as 3,500, and again right down to sea level. 

Its home appears to be the thin deciduous-leaved woods, 
especially those much mingled with bamboos, of the low hills. 
It is rarely seen in dense evergreen forests or in grass prairies. 

It is almost omnivorous, and feeds, according to season and 
locality, on all kinds of insects, grain, seeds, small jungle 
fruits and berries, and certain young leaves, green shoots and 
flower buds. 

It is not gregarious, and though a good many may be found in 
the same neighbourhood, they seem to live quite independent- 
ly of each other, except in the case of young broods, which 
keep for some months along with the mother, and pairs during 
the breeding season. 

Whether they are polygamous seems to me very question- 
able. That the males fight desperately during the breeding 
season is certain, and that where, owing to casualties and other 
circumstances, the females preponderate, the males may pay 
their addresses to more than one is possible, but I incline to 
believe that normally they pair with one only. 

* It has been asserted to occur in North Cachar, but there is no reason to believe 
hat it has ever been found there. 



206 THE VERMICELLATED PHEASANT. 

They are regular Fowl Pheasants, and with dogs afford a 
certain amount of sport, but when bagged are no great luxuries 
for the table. The flesh is white and free from unpleasant 
flavour ; but rather dry, and in old males tough enough. They 
rarely, if ever, have any fat about them, and when roasted could 
hardly, I believe, be distinguished from ordinary Indian domestic 
fowls. 

Writing from Northern Pegu, Captain Feilden says : — " This 
bird is tolerably common in the hills west of Thayetmyo, but 
appears to be unknown to any but Burmese It seems to re- 
quire rock and very steep hill-sides, covered by long grass, for 
shelter, and flat alluvial soil, bare of grass and covered with 
brushwood and young trees, for feeding ground ; in fact, its 
feeding ground is precisely the same as that of the Black 
Woodpecker, and I have several times lost a bird of each 
species by being undecided which to fire at. 

" An old male is a most extraordinary looking bird. The 
tail only is seen moving through the long grass, and I invari- 
ably thought at first that it was some new porcupine or badger, 
or some animal. The note, too, adds to the deception ; it re- 
minded me a little of the cries of young ferrets. 

" They run with great rapidity, but rise readily before a dog, 
and would not be difficult shooting but for the steepness of the 
hill-sides on which they are found, and the nature of the soil — 
gravel just stuck together by the material that forms the petri- 
fied wood so common there. This, covered by grass or dried 
bamboo leaves, makes the footing so slippery that any attempt 
to raise my gun hurriedly generally brought me to my knees. 

" These birds feed a great deal on the young shoot of a kind 
of Orchis, which rather resembles a large Roselle flower, and 
its juicy leaves enable these Pheasants to live for some time 
far away from water ; but in the middle of the hot-weather they 
are forced to retire from the Thayetmyo Hills by the long 
grass being burnt. They return at the beginning of the rains. 
They hatch in August." 

Mr. Oates remarks: — "This species is common throughout 
the whole of Pegu east of the Irrawaddy. 

i( It is rare or common just in proportion as the country 
is level or mountainous. In the plains or undulating portion 
of Upper Pegu it will be met with in small numbers, if the 
ravines and nallas are sufficiently precipitous to suit its taste ; 
but in these places, at the best, only one or two will be shot in a 
long morning's work. It is not till we get to the foot of the 
hills that this Pheasant can be said to be common. Here 
the nallas, with their pools of water and rocky beds, are parti- 
cularly favourable to it. As we mount higher, it increases in 
numbers to such an extent that it is no difficult matter to 
knock over half-a-dozen in a morning while marching, and that 
without leaving the path. 



THE VERMICELLATED PHEASANT. 207 

" This Pheasant is averse to all cultivation, and shuns even 
the yaks or hill gardens of the Karens, though these may be 
several miles from the nearest toy or village. It must have 
thick cover, even while feeding. In the mornings it comes out 
to feed on the ridges, where the jungle is a trifle less thick than 
in the valleys. At 9 or 10 o'clock it descends into the valleys, 
and after drinking retires into some small secondary water- 
course for its mid-day siesta. At this period of the day seven 
or eight may be found together if it is not the breeding season. 
When feeding, they go singly or in pairs. Their food is very 
varied. Ants, both white and black, are eagerly sought after ; 
the former are an especial weakness of our bird, and the only 
food on which it thrives in captivity. During the hot-weather 
Pheasants eat the fig of the Peepul ravenously ; and I have 
shot birds with nothing but this food in the stomach. 

" The breeding season begins about the 1st March, and by 
the end of the month all the hens have commenced laying. It 
is during this month only that the male makes that curious 
noise with his wings which seems peculiar to the Kalij group. It 
may be imitated very fairly by holding a pocket-handkerchief 
by two opposite corners and extending the arms with a jerk. 
This noise, made only by the male, is undoubtedly a challenge 
to other cocks. I have frequently hidden myself near a bird thus 
engaged, and on two occasions shot cock birds running with 
great excitement towards the sound. 

" The chickens, as soon as they are hatched, are very strong 
on their legs, and run with great speed. I was fortunate enough 
to capture portions of four broods. It is astonishing in what a 
short time the little birds make themselves invisible. It is 
difficult to secure more than two out of one batch. It is a case 
of pouncing on them at once or losing them. The mother is a 
great coward, running away at the slightest alarm, and thus 
contrasting very unfavourably with the Jungle Fowl, which 
keeps running round and round the intruder with great anxiety 
till her young ones are in safety. 

" The young are very difficult to rear. From some cause or 
other they become paralysed, lose the use of their legs, languish, 
and die. 

" This Pheasant is not very shy ; on the contrary, it is rather 
tame ; but it has the habit of sneaking quietly away, and very 
few birds will be seen by one who does not know its peculiari- 
ties. It never takes wing unless suddenly surprised, when it 
will skim across the valley and alight again as soon as possible. 
Its only call is a low chuckle, frequently uttered both when 
alarmed and when going to roost." 

Davison notes : — 

"This Pheasant occurs not uncommonly about Pahpoon, the 
north-east district of Tenasserim and its neighbourhood, and it 
extends as far, or nearly as far, south as Tavoy. It does not 



208 THE VERMICELLATED PHEASANT. 

occur anywhere about Mergui or to the south of that place. 
Not long ago it used to occur in the immediate neighbourhood 
of Moulmein, but all seem to have been trapped or shot off now. 

"They come continually into the open to feed about rice 
fields and clearings. They are shy, and usually run in pre- 
ference to flying when disturbed, except when put up by a 
dog, when they immediately perch. Captain Bingham tells me 
that on bright moonlight nights they constantly come out into 
the clearings. Their food consists of grain, seeds of various 
kinds, young leaves and grass, grubs, and insects. 

"They seem to prefer bamboo, or moderately thin tree 
jungle, to dense forest. They are found singly, in pairs, and 
sometimes several together ; when disturbed, they utter a 
peculiar clicking noise. The Burmans trap numbers of males 
with the aid of a decoy bird, which is taken to the jungle and 
fastened by the leg to a peg and surrounded by a circle of 
nooses ; the decoy bird calls and makes a peculiar buzzing 
sound with his wings, and any males within hearing are attract- 
ed by the sound, and, rushing up to attack the decoy bird, are 
caught in the nooses. The birds are very pugnacious, and even 
in a wild state are continually fighting with each other." 

It is, I notice, a mistake to suppose that this plan of capturing 
the males can only be adopted in the breeding season. The 
tame male can always be induced to " buzz" by imitating the 
sound from some place hidden to him. This the Burmans do 
by twisting very rapidly between the palms of the hands a- 
small stick, into a split at the top of which a piece of stiff cloth 
or a stiff leaf has been transversely inserted. 

Nor is it a fact that this peculiar noise is only made by the 
wild birds during the breeding season, or that it is as rare to 
hear it as Colonel Tickell makes out in his amusing notice of 
it that I shall now quote. On the contrary, Davison tells me 
that he has heard it fifty times, and several times in both De- 
cember and January. 

Colonel Tickell says : — 

" The noise in question is the most extraordinary and the 
most unnatural, that is to say, the most unbirdlike, I have 
ever heard. I was one day, in the cold season of 1859-60, 
looking out for a rhinoceros in the hills which skirt the eastern 
limits of the Tenasserim provinces. Some very recent marks 
of the animal were pointed out to me by my Karen guides, and 
following the traces through the jungle down the hill-side, I 
was at last brought up by a profound ravine. While some of 
my party left me to reach the bottom of this dell by a more 
circuitous and practicable route and I remained perched on the 
steep declivity, a singular reverberating sound reached my ears, 
proceeding apparently from the deep valley below me. It was 
a tremulous subdued noise, as if the mountains were shuddering 
in an ague fit, and I, who was thinking of nothing but rhinoce- 



THE VERMICELLATED PHEASANT. 20O, 

roses at the time, and had made up my mind to see a host of 
them emerge from the dense jungle as the result of so strange 
a symphony, was utterly amazed by my Karen companions 
telling me the noise was made by the " Yits " (Hill Pheasants). 
I could not help smiling at such a singularly literal illustration 
of the fabled mountain in labour with the nascitur ridiculus mus 
enacted by these funny birds. I have only on that occasion 
heard this extraordinary sound, though for weeks at a 
time journeying and living in forests abounding in Hill 
Pheasants." 

Darling, writing from the Tenasserim Hills in the Moulmein 
District, says : — 

" This bird was also very common at Thowngyah, — its habits 
the same as those of the Grey Peacock Pheasant, — feeding in 
thick clumps of bamboos and bushes in small parties. I have 
never seen them in the open. Unlike the Peacock Pheasant, 
however, this bird, when disturbed, at once flies away, sometimes 
getting into a tree, but generally with a noiseless and low flight 
a long way into the jungle ; when roused they always emit 
a whistled ' yit.' 



THIS SPECIES breeds from almost sea level up to an elevation 
of at least three thousand feet. 

The season varies according to locality and elevation, and a 
fresh egg or two may be found in the first week of March, and a 
clutch of eggs not yet hatched off up to quite the middle of May. 

Apparently in some localities they breed much later, or per- 
haps they have two broods in the year. Captain Feilden has 
seen young, recently-hatched chicks, at Thayetmyo in August. 

The nest is either a slight hollow scratched in the ground 
and thinly lined or sprinkled with dry leaves and perhaps a few 
feathers, or it is a depression scratched out or indented into 
some natural heap or bed of dry leaves. 

The nest is generally placed at the foot of some tree, or 
beside some fallen monarch of the forest, or in some dense 
clump of bamboo. Generally it is well concealed, but at times 
nests are met with in comparatively very exposed positions. 

Seven or eight is the usual complement of eggs, but natives 
talk of finding fourteen and fifteen at times, so that possibly 
occasionally two hens may lay in the same place. 

Writing from Tenasserim, Captain Bingham says : — 

"On the 1 6th March, while pushing through some thick bamboo 
jungle, I found at the foot of a Pynkadoe tree (Xylia dolabrifor- 
mis) a nest of this handsome Pheasant, and managed to shoot 
the female by hiding close by. The nest contained seven eggs, 
slightly set, placed in a little hollow that had been scratched in 
the ground and lined with leaves and a few feathers. The eggs 
arc a pinkish stone colour, minutely pitted all over." 

27 



210 THE VERMICELLATED PHEASANT. 

Mr. Oates says, in regard to their nidification in the country 
between Thayetmyo and Tounghoo : — 

" The female makes no nest, but chooses a hollow on a bank- 
side, generally at the foot of a bamboo clump. The dead 
leaves, which have accumulated to the depth of three or four 
inches, are hollowed out by the bird, not purposely, I think, but 
merely by the pressure of the bird's body. The first nest I 
found in 1871 contained six fresh eggs. This was on the 24th 
March. The second nest, found on the 8th April, contained 
seven eggs, slightly incubated. 

"A third nest, found on the 15th April 1873, contained seven 
eggs, hard-set. The colour is a rich cream, with numerous small 
dots of chalky white." 

All the eggs that we have obtained are of the usual hen's-egg 
shape ; they are of course unspotted, and vary from a pale yel- 
lowish to a warm pinkish cafe an lait colour. The shell, though 
fine, is very full of pores, and these in some eggs being filled 
with a whitish chalky substance, give them the effect of being 
stippled all over with white specks. None of the eggs that I 
have seen have had any very perceptible gloss, and as a rule 
they seem to be, for game birds of this class, very dull eggs. 

The eggs vary from i'8i to 2*03 in length, and from 1*4 to 
1*52 in width, but the average of nearly thirty eggs is 1*97 by 
1*46. 



Specimens measured in the flesh varied as follows : — 

Males. — Length, 25*5 to 30*0; expanse, 2975 to 3275 ; tail 
from vent, ico to 13-5 ; wing, 9*25 to 11*5 ; tarsus, 3*0 to 
3*62 ; bill from gape, 1*32 to 1*55. Weight, 2*5 to 3 lbs. 

Females. — Length, 20* 1 to 24*0 ; expanse, 2475 to 28*0 ; tail 
from vent, yS to IO'O ; wing, 8'5 to 9*5 ; tarsus, 2*9 to 3-4 ; bill 
from gape, 1*35 to 1-5. Weight, 2 to 2*5 lbs. 

The legs and feet were generally pinkish fleshy or pinkish 
brown ; sometimes a sort of bluish horny or plumbeous brown. 

In the male, the spurs are dark at the base, whitish horny at 
tip. In the males, the bills are pale bluish or greenish horny, 
darkest at base. In the female, pale horny brown. The irides 
seem to vary a great deal ; some were brown, of different shades, 
usually more or less tinged with red ; others are noted as very 
pale pink, or even fleshy white ; in fact, all the soft parts in this 
species seem to vary very greatly, doubtless according to age, 
season, and sex. In both sexes the facial skin is blood red 
and the exposed portion of the eyelids pale plumbeous or 
ashy blue. The cere is greyish in the male, blackish in the 
female. 

" In the chicken from the egg" says Mr. Oates, " the top of the 
head is fulvous, albescent on the forehead. There is a stripe from 
the base of the upper mandible to the eye, also a black line from 



THE VERMICELLATED PHEASANT. 211 

the posterior corner of the eye, passing under the ear-coverts, and 
terminating at the back of the head. The whole lower surface 
is white, with a tinge of fulvous ; upper neck, back, and rump, 
black. Two conspicuous fulvous white lines run from the 
shoulder to the root of the tail along the sides of the body, 
one on either side ; quills brown, much freckled with fulvous ; 
and the greater coverts largely tipped with white. 

" The adult plumage is assumed at the autumn moult, the 
white streaks on the breast and belly disappearing with age, and 
being nearly entirely absent in very old cocks." 



The Plate, viewed from a distance, gives a tolerable idea 
of both sexes. 







r^W) 



o 



•s? - 



fil FIUUCK. 



Euplocamus vieilloti, G. R. Gray, 



Vernacular Names.— [Knock-wah (Siamese), Bankasoon ; Mooah-Mooah (Malay) 
Malacca. ] 




T is only in the southernmost portions of Tenasserim 
viz., south of the Town of Tenasserim (and not so 
high up as Mergui as has been asserted), that the 
Fireback occurs within our limits. 

Further south we found it throughout the western 

half (the eastern we have not explored) of the Malay 

Peninsula, from Renong to Johore. 

It is also said to occur in Sumatra, but it seems to me 

possible that when more Sumatran specimens are compared 

they will prove to belong to a distinguishable race. 



Very little is known of this species ; indeed, Mr. Davison, the 
chief of my collecting establishments, is the only European, 
I believe, who has observed or shot it in a wild state, and I 
shall, therefore, quote his remarks on it, from our account of the 
" Birds of Tenasserim." He says : — 

M These birds frequent the thick evergreen forests in small 
parties of five or six ; usually there is only one male in the 
party, the rest being females, but on one or two occasions I 
have seen two males together ; sometimes the males are found 
quite alone. I have never heard the males crow, nor do I think 
that they ever do so ; when alarmed, both males and females 
have a peculiar sharp note, exceedingly like that of the large 
Black-backed Squirrel (Sciimis bicolor). The males also continu- 
ally make a whirring sound with their wings, which can be very 
well imitated by twirling rapidly between the hands a small 
stick, in a cleft of which a piece of stiff cloth has been trans- 
versely placed. I have often discovered the whereabouts of a 
flock by hearing this noise. They never come into the open, 
but confine themselves to the forests, feeding on berries, tender 
leaves, and insects and grubs of all kinds, and they are very 
fond of scratching about after the manner of domestic poultry, 
and dusting themselves. When disturbed, they run rapidly 
away, not in different directions, but all keeping much together ; 



214 THE FIREBACK. 

they rise at once before a dog, getting up with a great flutter, 
but when once well on the wing, fly with a strong and rapid 
flight ; they seldom alight again under a couple of hundred 
yards, and usually on the ground, when they immediately start 
running. 

" I noticed on one occasion a very curious thing. I had stalk- 
ed an Argus, and while waiting to obtain a good shot, I heard 
the peculiar note, a sort of " chukun, chukun" followed by the 
whirring noise made by the male Fireback, and immediately 
after saw a fine male Fireback run into the open space, and begin 
to chase the Argus round and round its clearing. The Argus 
seemed loath to quit its own domain, and yet not willing to 
fight, but at last, being hard-pressed, it ran into the jungle. The 
Fireback did not attempt to follow, but took up a position in 
the middle of the clearing and re-commenced the whirring noise 
with his wings, evidently as a challenge, whereupon the Argus 
slowly returned, but the moment it got within the cleared space, 
the Fireback charged it, and drove it back into the jungle, and 
then, as before, took up his position in the middle of the space 
and repeated the challenge. The Argus immediately returned, 
but only to be again driven back, and this continued at least a 
dozen times, and how much longer it would have continued I 
cannot say, but a movement on my part attracting the birds' 
attention, they caught sight of me, and instantly, before I could 
fire, disappeared into the jungle. The Argus never made the 
slightest attempt to attack the Fireback, but retreated at once 
on the slightest movement of the latter towards it, nor did I see 
the Fireback strike the Argus with either bill, wings, or spurs." 



They appear to breed during the monsoon, but I know 
nothing of their nidification. The only egg we obtained, laid 
in July by a captured hen, is simply a large game fowl's egg ; 
fairly smooth, though with but little gloss ; everywhere minutely 
dotted with inconspicuous pores, and of a rather pale and 
delicate cafe an lait colour. 
It measures 2*25 by i*68. 



The following are the dimensions and colours of soft parts 
recorded in the flesh of a large series of both sexes :— 

Males.— Length, 27*5 to 29/0 ; expanse, 35*0 to 38*5 ; tail from 
vent, io*o to 10*5 ; wing, 1075 to I2'i2 ; tarsus, 4*25 to 4*4 ; 
bill from gape, r6 to i*8. Weight, 4-25 to 5 lbs. 

Females. — Length, 23*0 to 24*0 ; expanse, 30*0 to 33*0 ; tail 
from vent, 7*5 to 9-0 ; wing, 97 to 1075 ; tarsus, 3*5 to 375 ; 
bill from gape, r6 to 17. Weight, 3 to 3*5 lbs. 

Legs and feet are vermilion red ; claws, and in the male the 
spurs, whitish ; the back of the tarsi in the female fleshy ; in 
the male the entire bill is whitish or horny white and cere 



THE FIREBACK. 21 5 

brownish ; in the female, the upper mandible is dark horny 
brown, the lower horny white ; the irides clear pale red ; facial 
skin smalt blue, bright in the male, rather duller in the female. 



The Plate does not show the legs of the male as the bright 
vermilion red they really are. 

The female is not quite the colour she is represented, but more 
of a chestnut. 

The name is misspelt. 



The GENUS Euplocamus contains many species ; all, I 
believe, belonging to the hilly regions of Northern and Eastern 
India, Burmah, Malayana (including Borneo and Sumatra), 
Siam, China, and the countries intervening between these 
two latter. 

This genus has been divided into several sub-genera, which I 
have not adopted. Roughly, they may all be classed as — 

(i.) — Kalij ; of which only four species are known, all of 
which have been dealt with above. 

(2.) — Silver Pheasants ; of which also four are known. 
Three of these, the Aracan, the Vermicellated, and Crawford's 
Pheasant have been treated of already ; the fourth is the well- 
known Silver Pheasant of China. 

(3.) — The Firebacks ; of which six or seven species are 
known ; three or four of much the same type as vieilloti, e.g., 
prcelatus from Siam, nobilis from Borneo, and swinhoi from 
Formosa, and two of a somewhat different type, with short, 
square, hen-like tails in both sexes, viz., erythrophthalmits from 
the Malayan Peninsula and Sumatra, and pyronotus of Borneo. 



^smmsw 




CO 
LU 



en 



60 



< 



rat in jiiiitf ©wl 

o 

Gallus ferrugineus, Gmelin. 



Vernacular Names. — [Jungli moorghi, Bun moorghi, Upper India ; Bunkokra, 
Bunkukra, Bun-kookoor, (Bengali, &c), Sitndarbans, Sonthal Country, Assam, 
&*c. ; Natsu-pia (Bhutia), Pazok-tchi (Lepcha), Sikhim, Dudrs ; Beer-seem 
(Koles) ; Gera-gogor (Gonds) ; Lall, Chanda District ; Tanquet, Tanghet> 
Burmah ; Ayam-ootan, Malay Peninsula ; ] 




HE Red Jungle-Fowl is, as the latter portion of its 
name imports, a true denizen of the jungle, and most 
especially of jungle in the vicinity of scattered culti- 
vation, at or near the bases of hills, which keep it 
comparatively well watered throughout the year. 

It is entirely wanting in the dry, level, alluvial 
plains and semi-deserts of Upper India, and even in 
better watered localities is absent from the more richly culti- 
vated tracts, and only straggles into cultivation which is in the 
neighbourhood of jungle. 

It is more or less abundant throughout the lower ranges of 
the Himalayas,* the Dhuns, Tarais, and submontane districts, 
and the Siwaliks from the southern outer ranges of Kashmir 
to the extreme head of the Assam Valley beyond Sadiya. 

Throughout the whole of Assam, including the less elevated 
portions of the Garo, Khasi and Naga Hills, Cachar and 
Sylhet, the whole of Eastern Bengal, including the Sunder- 
bans, Arakan, Pegu and Tenasserim, it is in all suitable localities 
common. Again, in all the hilly portions of Western Bengal, from 
the Rajmehal hills, through Midnapore, and westward of this, 
through the whole of Chota Nagpore, and the northern and 
eastern portions of the Central Provinces, it is the only Jungle- 
Fowl that is found. It is common along the Kymore range, and 
extends northwards to the neighbourhood of Punnah and Chair- 
khari, and southwards on to the Maikal or Amarkantak ranges. 
Southwards and eastwards of these latter it occupies the 
whole country north of the Godavari, Orissa, the Tributary 
Mahals, Ganjam, Vizagapatam, and part of the Godavari Dis- 
trict, Joonagurh, Kareall, Nowagurh, Jeypore and other Feuda- 

* It extends in places far into the interior of the hills along the valleys of rivers. 
Thus Colonel Fisher writes : — "Last year, to my surprise, I came across several of 
them in a low valley on the banks of the Nayar river in almost Central Garhwal, 
and at a distance of some 30 or 40 miles from the foot of these hills !" 

28 



2l8 THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 

tory States. It occurs also immediately below Pachmarhi, but 
the exact line of definition of this species and the Grey Jungle- 
Fowl between Pachmarhi and the Amarkantak range is un- 
certain, as I have as yet been unable to learn what species, 
if any, occurs in the hills about Seoni, Kooraiia, Deogarh and 
Chhindwara. 

Captain Temple and Mr. Ellison, the Deputy Commissioners 
of Seoni and Chhindwara, are of opinion that neither species 
occurs in their districts. 

As bearing on the distribution of this species in the Central 
Provinces,* I may note that Forsyth, the well-known sportsman, 
stated that its range was " precisely conterminous in the hills 
south of the Nerbudda with that of the Swamp Deer (Rucervus 
duvaiiceli), and the sal-tree (Shorea robusta)-\. The western 
limits of the great belt of sal forests which covers so large a 
portion of Eastern India is in the Mandla District, and there 
the Swamp Deer and Red Jungle-Fowl also occur. The sal is 
not found in Western India ; but there is one spot in the 
Deinwa Valley, just under Pachmarhi, where a patch of sal forest 
occurs, and there, and there only, the Red Jungle-Fowl and the 
Swamp Deer are met with, although the nearest spot to the 
eastward where the three again recur is 150 miles distant." 
Forsyth added that the two kinds of Jungle-Fowl met on the 
plateau at Pachmarhi and that he had shot both there. 

It is unknown in Kathiawar, Cutch, Sind, Rajputana, and the 
Punjab except in the immediate neighbourhood of the Hima- 
layas and the Siwaliks, and equally so, except in similar 
situations, in the greater portions of the level fully cultivated 



* As further illustrating this much-disputed question, I may quote what my friend 
Mr. R. Thompson, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Central Provinces, writes : — 

" The Red Jungle-Fowl is found nowhere in the Chanda District proper as far as 
my personal observations have extended, nor have I heard of its existence from native 
shikaris and others. It is found in the Godavari Valley as low down as the hills 
north of Rajmandhry, but not above Dumagudium, which is now just beyond the 
limits of the Central Provinces and within the Madras Presidency. In Central 
Bastar, between i8° and 19 N. Lat., it was common on the Baila Dila Plateau. 
I met with it in the valley of the Savery river which drains a part of Jeypore, and 
it may probably extend westwards to as far as the Indravati river, but I have 
no certainty as to this last point. Dr. Jerdon describes its existence in the valley of 
the Indravati, where I have certainly not met with it, and must therefore conclude 
that his description refers to some point very much higher up, and eastward of any 
place in the valley that I have visited." 

Again he writes : — 

" I was in the Eastern Zemindaris of the Chanda District a very short time ago, 
and met with the Red Jungle-Fowl in great abundance in the Zemindaris of Pana- 
baras, Kotgal, Koracha, &c. ; in fact, everywhere on the high table-land east of the 
Wainganga river. Just below the Ghats, the Grey Jungle- Fowl was met with, but 
not a single specimen was to be found on the high ground already in the possession 
of the other species. I traced the occurrence of the Red Jungle-Fowl down as far 
south as the Zemindaris of Omdhee ; south of that, it was again replaced by the 
other species. 

+ But note that the Swamp Deer occurs in Bahawalpur and Sind, where neit er 
sal trees nor Red Jungle- Fowl occur. 



THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 2IO, 

North-West Provinces, though it occurs in the hilly southern por- 
tions of the Mirzapore District. Further, it is wanting through- 
out the major portion of the deltaic districts of Lower Bengal, 
and in Behar except in the northern submontane tracts. 

Outside our limits, the Red Jungle-Fowl occurs throughout 
the western half of the Malay Peninsula, right down to Johore 
at its southernmost extremity, and it is also common to this 
day in all suitable localities in the jungles of Sumatra. 

It does not occur in Borneo, and I very much doubt whether 
its natural range extends beyond Sumatra in this direction. 

But it is claimed as an inhabitant of all kinds of other 
localities, Java, Timor, Lombok, Celebes, the Philippines, and 
Hainan, those from the latter belonging to the Indian, from 
all the former to the Malayan and Burmese race. 

My belief is that into all these localities they have been 
imported. All over the Malay Peninsula and India, domestic 
fowls are to be seen barely distinguishable from the Red Jun- 
gle-Fowl of these countries, and there can be no doubt that 
any such which ran wild would very soon, in the face of an 
environment similar to that of their original habitat, revert 
to the wild type. Nothing can be more certain than that the 
fowls on the Great and Little Cocos must have been introduced, 
yet they are now perfect Gallns ferrugineus. Similar Jungle- 
Fowl occur at Tahiti, and it is said other islands in the South 
Seas, and the Bonin Isles, which no one can accept as being 
within the possible natural range of this species. 

Then again Severtsov enumerates them as occurring through- 
out Western Turkestan. I cannot ascertain, from the abstract 
translation of his work which appeared in the Ibis, whether he 
means that they are wild there ; but if so, they have certainly rim 
wild. They do not cross the Himalayas ; they do not occur in 
Yarkand, in Kabul or Persia, and Turkestan cannot possibly be 
included within their natural range. 

On the other hand, they do occur in the westernmost portions 
of Siam, and not improbably spread throughout this latter 
country into Cochin-China. 

I have referred to the Indian and Burmo-Malayan races 
of this bird. The plumage of the latter is said to be redder, 
and taking a large series, there seems some truth in this, though 
individual birds from Dehra Dun and Johore, for instance, 
can be entirely matched as regards plumage, but in the Bur- 
mese and Malayan birds, the small ear lappet is invariably red, 
whereas in the Indian it is almost equally invariably white or 
pinky white. 

Vertically this species ranges from sea level to 5,000 feet 
elevation, but like many other species they are generally to be 
found lower down in the cold season, and are rarely to be met 
with above 3,000 feet, except during the hot season. 



220 THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 

Their habits have been so often and so well described that 
there is really nothing new to be said about them. Jerdon 
tells us that " the Jungle-Fowl is very partial to bamboo jungle, 
but is found as well in lofty forests and in dense thickets. When 
cultivated land is near their haunts, they may, during the har- 
vest season, and after the grain is cut, be seen morning and 
evening in the fields, often in straggling parties of ten to 
twenty. Their crow, which they give utterance to morning and 
evening all the year round, but especially at the pairing season, 
is quite like that of a Bantam Cock, but shorter and never pro- 
longed as in our domestic cocks. 

" When detached clumps of jungle or small hills occur in 
a jungly district where these Fowls abound, very pretty shoot- 
ing can be had by driving them by means of dogs and beaters ; 
and in travelling through a forest country, many will always 
be found near the roads, to which they resort to pick up grain 
from the droppings of cattle, &c; dogs will often put them up, 
when they at once fly on to the nearest trees. Young birds, if 
kept for a few days, are very excellent eating, having a consi- 
derable game flavour." 

Sometimes when thus beating for Jungle-Fowl you meet with 
odd surprises. It was in April 1853, in the good old days of 
palki dak from Meerut to Mussooree. Three nights we used 
to make of it when ladies were of the party, and the close of the 
second night brought us to the Kheree Dak Bungalow, in broken 
jungly ground just south of the Siwaliks. After breakfast 

1 went out to look for Jungle-Fowl, luckily with a rifle (a heavy 

2 oz. band spherical ball) in case of seeing Cheetul. We beat a 
lot of low jungle grass and scattered bushes, and I had got a 
Partridge and a Jungle Hen, when I turned into a very likely 
looking nalla, about 80 feet deep, with sloping well-grassed 
sides, and at the bottom a narrow perpendicular-sided water 
channel about four feet deep and three feet wide, cut through 
the boulder clay. In this channel I walked with one or two 
men along the slopes on either side, and one or two above, 
all a little behind me ; suddenly there was a shout on my 
left, and instantly a tremendous grunting ; as I seized my rifle 
from the shikari behind me, four black heads showed through 
the grass immediately above me. I could not get out of the 
wretched water-course, which was nearly up to my armpits, 
and without one second's hesitation one of the bears (the old 
female as it proved) came down upon me like a thunderbolt. 
I got my first barrel off when she was about ten yards from 
me ; the second let itself off as her chest struck the muzzle, and 
then I was knocked over, half stunned and nearly crushed to 
death. I don't know exactly how it all happened, but I found 
myself on my face, hardly able to breathe ; my head, arms and 
body pinned down by the massive motionless ^luckily for me) 
corpse of lady Bruin. Seeing that the bear was quite dead, my 



THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL, 221 

shikari and a good pahari bearer I had soon pulled her off 
and released me, a mass of blood, a good deal cut and bruised, 
but not really hurt ; my first bullet had gone straight through her 
from stem to stern (2 oz. hardened bullet and six drams of 
powder), the other had gone right through the heart and come 
out behind the ribs on the left side. 

It will be well for griffs (as I then was) to bear in mind 
that, in the Sub-Himalayan ranges at any rate, where Jungle- 
Fowl are common, there bears and tigers are not unlikely to 
be met with, and that they should never beat for Jungle-Fowl 
in such situations on foot, without a rifle in trustworthy hands 
behind them, and never allow themselves to be caught in such 
a trap as that in which I had stupidly placed myself. 

Beavan says : — 

" The best shooting I ever got at this species was at Jalpai- 
guri, where the nallas, or beds of streams, in the neighbour- 
hood, which are common in that country, and filled with jungle, 
gave cover to very many of these birds. When put up by beaters 
they fly out at a considerable pace, and require a good knock- 
down blow to bag them. They run, too, a great deal. In the 
Manbhoom district the native shikaris used to get many of 
them by placing corn near some water in the half-dried-up beds 
of streams, and then shooting them when they came there both 
in the early morning and evening to eat and drink." 

Colonel Tickell remarks : — 

" It is off the alluvion, in the dry, stony jungles between 
Midnapore and Chota Nagpore, that the Jungle-Fowl are met 
with in the greatest numbers. In favourable situations, such 
as narrow strips of cultivation in the woods after the crops have 
been reaped, I have seen as many as twenty or thirty together 
gleaning about in the stubble ; and where the country is thinly in- 
habited they will, in twos and threes, advance pretty boldly into 
the open. On such occasions they do not appear to plant sentries 
like the Crane and Wild Goose, but are at all times excessively 
timid and wary. W T hen approached in open spots, far from 
covert, they take wing as readily as Partridges, springing with 
a loud flutter, and flying steadily and strongly to the jungle, 
with rapid beats and alternate sailings of their wings. They 
alight generally within the edge of the covert, and then run 
so long and swiftly as to render it quite hopeless to follow 
them. There is no bird more difficult to approach, or even to 
see, when in the jungle. The cocks may be heard of a morn- 
ing or evening crowing all round, but the utmost precaution will 
not, in most cases, enable the sportsman to creep within shot or- 
sight of the bird. The hen, too, announces the important fact 
of having laid an egg with the same vociferation as in the 
domestic state, but is silent ere the stealthiest footstep can 
approach her hiding-place, and, gliding with stealthy feet under 
the dense foliage, is soon far away in the deep recesses of the 



222 THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 

jungle. To a stranger it is not a little curious to hear the 
familiar sounds of our farmyards issuing from the depths of 
the wild forest. 

" This bird must be sought in all jungly country which is 
partly cultivated ; and where paddy fields extend in long 
strips into the forest, two sportsmen walking one on each side 
just within the cover, with a line of beaters between them, can 
enjoy very pretty shooting. The fowls rise from the stubble 
and fly into the wood, passing over head, and the sport resem- 
bles Pheasant-shooting in England, the flight and size of the 
birds being pretty similar. When the fields have been cleared 
of the fowls, the shooting may be continued with success in the 
woods if they be pretty open and the sportsman furnished 
with spaniels the sight of which forces the birds to tree, from 
whence very pretty snap shots may be obtained, as they will 
often rest on a high branch till the sportsman has arrived under- 
neath before taking wing again. Both cocks and hens make 
a desperate cackling and flutter when thus roused up by dogs, 
and I know of no shooting which requires greater nerve and 
steadiness. If there are no dogs the birds will not tree, but run 
slyly and silently along and are seen no more, unless you be 
mounted on an elephant, when it is easy enough to pot them, 
should you be so minded, as they skulk under the brushwood. 
Like the Phasianidae, wild poultry are omnivorous. They are 
not subject to migrations, even to the extent to which Pea-Fowl 
shift their quarters ; but in the hot season and the rains they 
retire deeper into the woods, the cultivated tracts no longer 
affording food, while the sylvan recesses provide seclusion and 
shelter for breeding." 

To a certain extent the Jungle-Fowl is omnivorous, and will 
eat not only grass and young shoots and flower buds, and seeds 
and grain of all kinds, but worms and grasshoppers and beetles 
and small land shells, but they are preferentially gram- 
inivorous, and I have examined scores which had eaten 
absolutely nothing but grain. 

In the autumn, after the millet fields have ripened, they 
grow very fat on this grain, and the birds of the year are then 
really good eating, but, as a rule, the birds one shoots (be it 
confessed with shame, for it ought to be a close season) from 
March to June, tiger-shooting in the Tarai, when, the day's 
sport over, one turns homeward towards the tents, are no whit 
better than ordinary village fowls. 

Captain Baldwin, the well-known author of the " Game of 
Bengal," tells us that — 

"The Jungle-Fowl is generally found in very thick jungle 
bordering rivers like the Sarda in Pilibhit, specially when the 
banks of streams are much cut up and intersected by ravines 
with thick patches of overhanging bushes ; wooded islands in 
rivers, near the foot of the hills, are also likely spots. 



THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 22$ 

" In the early morning, or towards evening, the birds come 
out from the dense thicket, where they retire during the heat of 
the day to feed near the edge of the forest. They like to scratch 
about at the back of old cattle-sheds, and where crops grow 
close to the jungle side will enter the corn fields to feed. In 
some places, where the borders of the forest are much broken 
and irregular, and the villagers have cultivation here and there 
between patches of wood and bushes, I have seen capital 
bags made by a couple of guns, three or four beaters, and a 
few bustling spaniels. The plan is this : to beat out strips and 
patches separately, and make a corner here and there, placing 
the guns in the first instance between the patch of standing 
crop about to be beaten, and the forest towards which the 
Jungle-Fowl when flushed are certain to make. The birds 
finding their retreat cut off, and pushed hard by men and 
dogs, are forced to take flight, and when well on the wing offer 
as fine a shot as a sportsman could desire." 

Col. Williamson, Inspector-General of Police in Assam, 
remarks : — 

" The Red Jungle-Fowl is found in the Garo Hills, and in all 
the Assam plains districts. I shot the bird beyond Sadiya the 
other day. It is a permanent resident in Assam ; it is found 
in bamboo and tree jungle, and is very often numerous near 
villages. In the low hills near Susung in the Mymensing 
District of Bengal, I have had excellent sport with these 
birds. I had the hills thoroughly beaten by beaters, the guns 
being carefully posted across the line of flight of the birds. I 
have shot 10 to 12 couple in an hour's shooting in this way. 
The best time for this sport is just at the season when the 
cold weather rice crop is ready for the sickle ; say, during the 
month of December and early in January." 

From Khoolna, Mr. Rainey writes : — 

" I have found this species here and there in small numbers, 
in that tract of swampy forest country lying between the 
estuaries of the Hooghly and Megna, and known as the 
Sundarbans. 

" I have never found them in the dense grass or reed jungle. 
They appear to stick to the forest, where they roost on the 
branches, selecting the most horizontal ones they can find. 

" The cackling of the female, though it is slightly sharper, 
much resembles that of the common domestic hen of Lower 
Bengal ; and she appears to be always similarly noisy after 
depositing her egg. The male gives forth his cock-a-doodle-do 
quite as lustily, but in somewhat shriller tones than his 
representative of the village poultry-yards, and where human 
habitations at which fowls are reared exist adjoining the 
forest, it is most difficult to distinguish between the crows of 
tame and wild Chanticleers as they ' proclaim the coming 
morn.' 



224 THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 

" Their principal food in the Sundarbans is insects, especially, 
I should say, the larva of termites or white ants, which abound 
there. Grass seeds also doubtless afford them some subsistence. 
The majority rarely have an opportunity of feeding on grain — 
only such few of them as chance to dwell near one of the 
rare and isolated patches of cultivation 

' Rari nantes in gurgite vasto' 

ever see grain in these virgin wildernesses. It must, however, 
be admitted that those which do thus get a chance of partaking 
the luxuries of civilization evince the greatest partiality for 
them, and regularly every morning and evening make a raid on 
the rice fields near harvest time. 

" The best way of shooting these birds here is by proceeding 
morning and evening along the edge of the forest between it 
and the rice fields. The sportsman will thus flush two or three 
coveys of them, and secure a few brace. The largest bag that 
could be obtained by a single gun would hardly be more than 
three or four brace. 

" Very few cultivators — there are no professional bird-catchers 
in the Sundarbans — attempt to snare the Jungle-Fowl, and they 
do so only occasionally. They catch them in nooses, using a 
tame decoy bird to allure the wild ones. The decoy bird is 
tethered in an open space close to the forest, with the nooses 
placed round it and grain strewn about. The call of the 
decoy bird — and it is always in a defiant tone — attracts the wild 
fowl, and generally the males come forth to do battle and are 
snared, or the hens to eat the grain, and are similarly secured. 
I have never seen birds thus captured when mature, tamed or 
even kept alive in confinement for any time, as they obstinately 
refuse to eat, and pine away and die. 

" I may add that the Jungle-Fowls in the Sundarbans appear 
to be descended immediately from domestic fowls, which used 
to be let out there in considerable numbers by superstitious 
wood-cutters to propitiate the sylvan deities — a practice still 
prevailing to some extent — and I have shot these birds there 
in different stages of transition. This is interesting, as we 
evidently thus find the domestic fowl reverting to its pristine 
condition, for the Red Jungle-Fowl is undoubtedly the origin of 
our tame varieties of fowl. I had a couple of chicks, produced 
from eggs of wild birds set under the domestic fowl, and they 
remained contentedly in the poultry-yard, and freely bred — they 
were both hens — with the tame fowl. The progeny were in 
appearance midway between their parents, and exactly similar 
to some I had shot in the Sundarbans. About that time the 
cyclone of 1867 swept over the place I was residing at, and 
of course put a premature end to the varied denizens of the 
poultry-yard, hybrids included. I soon afterwards left my 
abode in the wilds of the Sundarbans, and have had no 
opportunity since of continuing the experiment." 



THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 225 

I am not going to discuss the problem, on which so much has 
been written, as to whether all our domestic poultry really spring 
exclusively from the Red Jungle-Fowl or whether other wild 
stocks have contributed a strain. The discussion is perfectly 
profitless, because the problem is perfectly insoluble, since every 
trait or detail of plumage or of colour or shape of soft parts which 
may be adduced as proving the intermixture of other wild species 
(and there are many breeds in which such appear) may be equally 
explained on the assumption that they are instances of attavism, 
and are derived through the Red Jungle-Fowl from the common 
stock out of which all existing species of Jungle-Fowl diverged. 

But looking to the geographical position of the Sundarbans, 
at the apex of the Delta, and its very recent origin, I should 
not be surprised if Mr. Rainey were right, and all the Jungle- 
Fowl there found were really, as a great number undoubtedly 
are, the progeny of tame races ; in which case these Sundar- 
bans birds furnish another illustration of the readiness with 
which the tame fowls revert, under favourable conditions, to the 
wild ancestral type. 

From Tenasserim, where alone, within our limits, he has seen 
much of them, Davison records that "this species was extreme- 
ly abundant in the bamboo forests about Pahpoon, and to the 
north of that place, and I have found it not uncommon over 
the rest of the province, except in the higher hills. It frequents 
all kinds of localities, dense forest, thin tree, bamboo and 
scrub jungle. It comes out in the morning and evening into 
the fields and clearings, retiring during the day to cover. They 
are always found in larger or smaller flocks, consisting of males 
and females ; when disturbed they usually rise at once and 
disperse in different directions ; when the female is sitting or 
has young ones, she keeps apart from the flocks, and generally 
keeps to cover, seldom coming into the open until the chicks 
are well grown and pretty strong on the wing. 

" On one occasion, near Pahpoon, I counted thirty males and 
females seated side by side on one enormous bent bamboo. 
Mr. Hildebrande was with me, or I should not have ventured 
to record the fact. I counted them carefully through my 
binoculars. They were at the other side of the Younzaleen, 
I guessed about 70 yards off; I loaded a large duck gun with 
big shot, fired at the lot and — apparently did not touch one." 

No one specially notices the extreme pugnacity of these 
birds in the wild state, or the fact that where they are numerous 
they select regular fighting grounds much like Ruffs. 

Going through the forests of the Siwaliks in the north- 
eastern portion of the Saharanpur district, I chanced one after- 
noon, late in March, on a tiny open grassy knoll, perhaps ten yards 
in diameter and a yard in height. It was covered with close 
turf, scratched in many places into holes, and covered over with 
Jungle-Fowl feathers to such an extent that I thought some 

29 



226 THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 

Bonelli's Eagle, a great enemy of this species, must have caught 
and devoured one. Whilst I was looking- round, one of my 
dogs brought me from somewhere in the jungle round a freshly- 
killed Jungle-Cock, in splendid plumage, but with the base of the 
skull on one side pierced by what I at once concluded must 
have been the spur of another cock. I put up for the day at a 
Bunjara Perow, some two miles distant, and on speaking to the 
men found that they knew the place well, and one of them said 
that he had repeatedly watched the cocks fighting there, and 
that he would take me to a tree close by whence I could see it 
for myself. Long before daylight he guided me to the tree, 
telling me to climb to the 4th fork, whence, quite concealed, I 
could look down on the mound. When I got up it was too dark 
to see anything, but a glimmer of dawn soon stole into the 
eastern sky, which I faced ; soon after crowing began all round, 
then I made out the mound dimly, perhaps 30 yards from 
the base of the tree and 40 from my perch ; then it got 
quite light and in a few minutes later, a Jungle-Cock ran out 
on to the top of the mound and crowed (for a wild bird) 
vociferously, clapping his wings, and strutting round and round, 
with his tail raised almost like a domestic fowl. 

And here I should notice that although, as has often been 
noticed, the wild cocks always droop their tails when running 
away or feeding — in fact almost whenever you see them — yet I 
believe from what I then and once subsequently saw, that, when 
challenging rivals, they probably always erect the tail, and 
I know (having twice so surprised them before they saw me 
when watching for Cheetul and Sambhur from a tnackdn, near 
water in the early morning) that when paying their addresses 
to their mates, they do the same during the preliminary struts 
round them. 

I learnt so much and no more ; there was a rush, a yelp ; the 
Jungle-Cock had vanished, and I found that one of my wretched 
dogs had got loose, tracked me, and was now careering wildly 
about the foot of the tree. 

Next day I tried again, but without success. I suppose the 
birds about had been too much scared by the dog, and I had to 
leave the place without seeing a fight there ; but putting all the 
facts together, I have not the smallest doubt that this was a real 
fighting arena, and that, as the Bunjara averred, many of the 
innumerable cocks in the neighbourhood did systematically 
fight there. 

Only a week later I shot two cocks, who were tumbling head 
over heels, a confused mass, with wings and legs interlaced in an 
incredible manner, and on several other occasions, when watch- 
ing and waiting, concealed and in silence, for larger game, I 
have witnessed desperate battles between cocks who happened 
to meet, attracted by each other's crows and flappings of wings, 
near mv tree ambush. 



THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 22/ 

The Red Jungle Fowl breeds alike in hills and plains, from 
almost sea level up to three, four, or even five thousand feet 
elevation according to locality. 

According to my personal experience in the Himalayas 
and sub-Himalayan tracts, its eggs are normally only to be 
found between the 1st April and the end of June, and the 
higher the nest the later they lay, but others talk of finding 
the nests in January, February, or March, and I therefore 
suppose that they lay earlier further south. 

The hen makes her nest in any dense thicket, bamboo clumps, 
it is said by preference, though I have not noticed this to be 
the case, composed of dry leaves, grass, and stems of soft her- 
baceous plants. Sometimes the nest is large and comfortable ; 
sometimes it looks as if the bird had made no nest and merely 
laid on a heap of dry leaves that it found handy, hollowing a 
receptacle for the eggs by the pressure of its body. Sometimes, 
again, the bird has clearly scraped a hollow in which to place 
the nest, and sometimes it has scraped up the earth all round, so 
as to make a sort of rim to the nest and keep the materials firm. 

Many years ago, shooting in May for a month in the 
Siwaliks, chiefly along the southern side, my people and dogs 
between them used to find me a nest almost every day, and 
once we found six within a circle of 200 yards near the Bhinj- 
ka-khol. A large lota of water was carried, and one or two 
eggs out of every batch were tested to see if they would lie 
flat at the bottom, stand on end, or float ; of course we took 
only the former, and these I used to eat boiled, roast, and in 
omelettes, until I got perfectly sick of them. In those days, 
(I say it with pain and humiliation) the only use I ever put 
eggs to was to eat them, and in this particular case I was 
punished, for since I took to collecting eggs fate has so willed 
it that I have never seen a single nest, and have only quite 
recently succeeded in obtaining a good series from different 
localities. Well, in all the many nests I have seen, I never 
found more than nine eggs, and as well as I can remember five 
or six were the usual complement, even where the eggs were 
hard-set and floated. Other people speak of finding many more 
eggs in a nest. Wardlaw Ramsay, for instance, took a nest in 
Karenee on the 14th March containing eleven eggs ! 

Captain Hutton says : — " The Common Jungle-Fowl is abun- 
dant in some parts of the Dun, and in summer ascends the outer 
hills to 5,000 feet elevation. It lays its eggs on the ground 
with little preparation of nest, contenting itself with scrap- 
ing together a few dry leaves and grass ; the eggs being from 
four to six generally, though often more, of a dull white, and 
very similar to those of Common Bantam Fowls, with which it 
will readily breed if domesticated from the egg. 

" I have often reared the chicks under a domestic hen and 
turned them loose, but after staying about the house for several 



228 THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 

days, they always eventually betook themselves to the jungles 
and disappeared. If kept confined with other fowls, however, 
they readily interbreed, and the broods will then remain quiet 
under domestication, and always exhibit, both in plumage and 
marner, much more of the wild than of the tame stock, 
preferring at night to roost on the branches of trees. Mr. Blyth 
has remarked that his cross-breed eggs never produced chicks, 
but I have never found any difficulty in this respect. The 
crowing of the cock birds is very shrill and like that of the 
Frizzled Bantams. In the wild state it is monogamous." 

Dr. Jerdon states that "the hen breeds from January to July, 
according to the locality, laying eight to twelve eggs, of a 
creamy white colour, often under a bamboo clump or in some 
dense thicket, occasionally scraping a few leaves or a little 
dried grass together to form a nest." 

In the Field, " Ornithognomon" writes : " The period of in- 
cubation varies, according to locality, but is generally at the 
beginning of the rains, i. e., June. I have seen eggs, however, 
in March. The hen selects for the purpose of nidification some 
secret thicket in the most retired and dense part of the jungle, 
scraping together a few leaves on the ground by way of nest. 
She remains as part of the cock's seraglio until some seven to 
ten or a dozen eggs have been deposited in the above spot, to 
which she stealthily repairs every day, and finally quits her 
party and retires alone and unseen to perform the duties of in- 
cubation. The chicks are hatched as usual in about twenty 
days, and run about, following the mother, as soon as they have 
emerged from the egg-shell ; and she leads them about, teach- 
ing them how to find their own sustenance, till they are big 
enough to shift for themselves, by which time the young cocks, 
finding that they cannot in honour come within a few yards of 
each other without a battle, separate, each one taking some 
of his sisters with him. These particulars I have gathered 
from native informants ; but I can add from my own experience 
that either the season of incubation is uncertain, or that the 
hens lay in the cold season with no more ulterior views than 
the domestic birds, for both in February and March I have heard 
them emit that peculiar cackle tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tukauk ! by which 
every one knows a hen in a farmyard proclaims to the good 
housewife a fresh acquisition to her larder." 

A good deal of this is purely "native." In the first place, 
the nests are not really generally so very carefully hidden ; they 
are in thickets no doubt, but fully half of them are so far open 
that no one given to bird-nesting could possibly pass them. In 
the second, go near the nest when you like, — morning, noon, or 
evening, — be there one egg or six in the nest, your dogs are 
certain to put the hen up quite close. In the third place, how 
each young cock is to go away taking some of his sisters with 
him I do not know. Certainly, to judge from the young birds 



THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL. 229 

one kills in October and November (when they are fat as butter 
and most delicious), fully as many young cocks as hens are 
reared. Lastly, I am quite certain that they are not always 
polygamous. I do not agree with Hutton that they are always 
monogamous, because I have constantly found several hens in 
company with a single cock, but I have also repeatedly shot 
pairs without finding a single other hen in the neighbourhood, 
and if you have good dogs (and you can do nothing in jungle 
with either these or Pheasants without dogs) you are sure to 
see and hear, even if you get no shot at them, all the birds there 
are. 

" In the Sundarbans," says Mr. Rainey, " their breeding 
season lasts generally from March to May. The hen lays her 
eggs on the ground, usually in a shallow hole scraped for that 
purpose and lined with a few scattered leaves. The nest is 
made in the centre of some dense thicket or underwood in the 
midst or edge of the forest. She lays from six to eight eggs ; 
at least I have never found more than that number in any 
single nest. The eggs are rather smaller than those of tame 
fowls in the same parts of the country, and of a slightly reddish 
brown colour. Many eggs are destroyed, I am told, by the so- 
called ■ Iguana,' properly Monitor Lizard ( Varanus draccena.)" 

From Upper Pegu, where they are quite as common in the 
hills as in the plains, Mr. Oates sent me eggs taken by him 
on the 20th March and 25th May. 

He says : " In Pegu this species appears to breed throughout 
the first six months of the year, but more frequently in April, 
May, and June. Nests at all elevations from 100 to 2,000 feet 
above sea level." 

The eggs vary much in size and shape, but typically they are 
miniature hens' eggs ; considerably elongated varieties are, 
however, common. The shell is, as a rule, very fine and smooth, 
and has a tolerable gloss ; but specimens occur in which the 
pores are much more marked than usual, the shell coarser and 
rougher, and the gloss very faint. As to colour they are nor- 
mally a pale yellowish cafe au lait colour, but occasionally a red- 
der and deeper-coloured egg is met with. 

In length the eggs vary from r6 to 2*03, and in breadth from 
1*27 to 1*5 ; but the average of thirty is 178 by 1*36. 



AS TO DIMENSIONS — 

Males, measured. — Length, 25*0 to 28*2; expanse, 27*0 to 29-5 ; 
wing, 8 - 1 2 to 9-5 ; tail from vent, 11*25 to H'3 5 tarsus, 3-0 to 
3' 12 : bill from gape, i'i9 to 1 "37 ; spur, very sharp and curved, 
I'O to 1*7 in length. Weight, 1 lb. 12 ozs. to 2 lbs. 4 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 16*5 to 18*25 ; expanse, 23*0 to 25-0 ; wing, 
7*1 to 7*5 ; tail from vent, 5*5 to 6*5 ; tarsus, 2*3 to 2*55 ; bill 
from gape, 0*9 to T02. Weight, 1 lb. 2 ozs to 1 lb. 10 ozs. 



230 THE RED JUNGLE-FOWL, 

The legs and feet are plumbeous or slaty, sometimes browner 
and purpler, sometimes darker and with a greenish tinge, some- 
times paler, a kind of slaty grey. The comb, thin and deeply 
notched above, which is much reduced in the females, and 
wattles, which (though Blyth contradicts Dr. Jerdon on this point) 
have been wanting in all females that I have examined, vary 
from a deep dull red to bright crimson ; the skin of sides of head, 
chin, throat and upper part of neck in front, smooth and red 
also, but usually somewhat paler, bluer and more fleshy ; ear 
lappets, as a rule, white or pinky white in Indian birds, red like 
the comb in Burmese and Malayan ones ; irides light red to 
orange red ; bill dark brown to blackish dusky, paler towards 
tip of lower mandible, often reddish in the male towards the 
base ; in the female horny brown above, fleshy grey below. 

In a young male the naked skin of head and neck was fleshy 
grey mixed with dull blue ; the legs dark pure slaty grey. 



The Plate, as already noticed, is not unnatural in the 
position in which the male is shown, although it is but rarely 
that the tail is thus raised. The face is never quite uniform 
in colour with comb and wattles as here shown. Of course the 
plate is idiotically mislettered. 

The chicks are the prettiest little things imaginable, with 
fawn-coloured heads, with a broad coronal maroon stripe fram- 
ed in black, and maroon backs, with a broad creamy buff 
stripe on either side also framed in black. The bills yellow ; 
legs and feet greenish. 

It may be useful to notice that very odd nondescript birds 
may be shot of this species, which seem to be neither males nor 
females. I know I was much puzzled with the first of these I 
shot, and thought I had secured at least a hermaphrodite, but 
these queer looking birds are really nothing but males, who at 
the close of the breeding season have dropped part or the 
whole of the neck hackles, which have been replaced by short 
dusky brown feathers. 



-•■''■•'"•'■ '•'i. : 



m 




TO1 ilif MMUMFBVL 



Gallus sonnerati, Temminch 



VemaCUlar ITameS.— [Komri, Mt. Abu;^ng\\ Murghi (Hindustani), many parts 
of Central India, &=c; Pardah Komri (Gondhi), Chdnda District ; Ran-kobada 
(male), Ran-kobadi (female), (Mahrati) Sahyadri Range; Kombadi, Deccan ; 
Adavikode, (Telegu) j Katu-koli ( Tamil) ; Koli, Kad-koli (Canarese), Mysore.] 




HIS species is the Jungle-Fowl of Southern India ; but, 
though common in the Assamboo Hills to the southern- 
most extremity of the Peninsula, does not extend to 
Ceylon, where it is replaced by a distinct species. 

From the sea to its junction with the Indravati* 
the valley of the Godavari indicates approximately 
its north-eastern limits. Thence a line drawn through 
Pachmarhi to the Nerbudda completes roughly its north-eastern 
boundary. Westwards the Nerbudda defines, I believe, its 
northern limits to within from 120 to 150 miles of the sea, 
where, crossing this river into the westernmost portions of the 
Vindyas, it runs up through Rewa Kantha and Mahi Kantha to 
Abu, and thence along the Arvalis to beyond the well-known 
Dasuri Pass, stragglers having even been obtained half way 
between this and Beawur. 

Like their northern congener they are eminently birds of 
jungly and hilly or broken ground, and are not to be found 
at any distance from these in level, thoroughly cultivated 
tracts ; but throughout all the hilly tracts within the limits 
indicated, the entire range of the Western Ghats,f the Sat- 
puras, and all their southern ramifications, the Nilgiris, 

* Mr. R. Thompson says: "The Grey Jungle-Fowl is abundant in the jungles 
of Chanda, and I found it common in the valley of the Indravati, at least 50 miles 
up from its junction with the Godavari." 

t Mr. G. Vidal writes : — 

" Plentiful throughout the Sahyadri Range, and especially in the tract at the 
summit known as the ' Konkan Ghat Mahta.' Scarcer on the eastern and western 
slopes. 

" Throughout the Ratnagiri district, whose eastern boundary is the watershed 
of the Ghats, Jungle-Fowl are found sparingly in the ravines of the western slopes. 
A few stragglers are sometimes seen or heard in a few of the larger and more 
elevated hills of this district, between the main range and the coast, where these 
hills, though detached from the Ghats by steep valleys, are connected by continuous 
belts of forest." 

Mr. Davidson, C S., tells us that— 

"The Grey Jungle-Fowl is found all through the Ghats in the Poona and 
Satara districts, but not straying east into the plain Deccan districts. It is fairly 



232 THE GREY JUNGLE-FOWL. 

Pulneys, Anamalais, Shervaroys, and the like, they occur, 
and, where not persecuted, in great abundance, from near sea 
level to at least 5,500 feet elevation. Indeed, individuals 
may be met with up to fully 7,000 feet, as on the higher slopes 
of Dodabetta. 

The Grey Jungle-Fowl is a purely Indian species, and does 
not, as already noticed, even extend to Ceylon, where it is repre- 
sented by the next species G. lafayettii. 

I MYSELF HAVE seen but little of this Jungle-Fowl, and that 
little chiefly about the base of Mount Abu, and the Dasuri Pass 
further east in the Arvalis, and I therefore avail myself of 
Davison's notes on the species, amongst which he has spent 
many years of his life. He says : 

"The Grey Jungle-Fowl occurs but sparingly about the higher 
portions of the Nilgiris, but is common on the lower slopes, 
in the low country about the bases of the hills, and throughout 
most parts of the Wynaad. I have found it most abundant 
in the jungles between Metapolliem and Kullar, and between 
this place and Burliar about half way between Kullar and 
Coonoor, I counted sixteen once (while riding up to Coonoor 
early one morning) feeding along the cart road here. 

" Unlike the Red Jungle-Fowl, this species is not gregarious, 
and though occasionally one meets with small coveys, these 
always consist of only one or two adults, the rest being more 
or less immature. As a rule, they are met with singly or in pairs. 

" The crow of the male is very peculiar, and might be sylla- 
bled, ' Kuck-kaya-kya-kuckl ending with a low, double 
syllable, like ' Kyukiin, Kyukunj repeated slowly, and very softly, 
so that it cannot be heard except when one is very close to the 
bird. Only the males crow, and that normally only in the 
mornings and evenings, though occasionally they crow at 
intervals during the day when the weather is cloudy. The 
crow is very easily imitated, and with a little practice the wild 
birds may be readily induced to answer. 

common in the Panch Mahals wherever there are any hills, but is very rare in the 
low lying jungles. It was rare, but I saw it in several places in the Tumkur 
district in Mysore," 

Mr. E. James again writes : 

" I have myself seen the bird all along the Satpura Hills and along the Western 
Ghats from Khandesh to Kanara. Along the Arbyle-Ghat Road, Jungle-Cocks 
are to be seen picking grain out of horsedung and cowdungjust like Barndoor Fowls, 
merely running into the dense jungle on each side as soon as any one approaches." 

Darling says : 

' ' I have seen and shot this Jungle-Fowl on all parts of the Nilgiris from the 
highest summits to the plains about their bases, in Kullar and Metapolliem ; in the 
Guzle Hutti Pass and all over the Wynaad ; in the Calicut district and Walliar 
jungles." 

Mr. Mclnroy remarks : 

"After the paddy is cut near Hunsur, (S. W. Mysore) they literally swarm in the 
fields for some two to three months, feeding upon the fallen grain. The cock is a 
very wide-awake gentleman, and I have frequently seen him, on detecting danger, 
make off silently to the jungle, leaving his hens to their fate." 



THE GREY JUNGLE-FOWL. 2^3 

" They do not, however, crow the whole year through, but 
only from October to May, when they are in full plumage. 

" When flushed by a dog in the jungle, they flutter up into 
some tree above with a peculiar cackle, a ' Kuck-kuck-kuck,* 
which, however, they only continue till they alight. 

" They come into the open in the mornings and evenings, 
retiring to cover during the heat of the day, unless the weather 
is cloudy, when they may be met with in the open throughout 
the day, 

"Though found in evergreen forests, they seem to prefer 
moderately thin and bamboo jungle, 

" Ordinarily, as already remarked, they are found scattered ; 
but when a tract of bamboo comes into seed, or any other parti- 
cular food is locally abundant, they collect there in vast numbers, 
dispersing again as soon as the food is consumed. I remember 
on one occasion when the undergrowth of the Sholas about 
Pykarra (which consists almost entirely of Strobilantkes sp.) seed- 
ed, the Jungle-Fowl congregated there in the greatest numbers, 
I mean by hundreds, and were excessively numerous for more 
than a fortnight, when they gradually dispersed, owing, I believe, 
not so much to the seeds having all been eaten, as to what 
remained of them having sprouted and so become uneatable. 

" In some ways they are not very shy ; by taking an early 
stroll, even without a dog, along some quiet road by which 
cattle and grain pass, several can always be obtained, but when 
they have been at all disturbed and shot at, they become very 
wary, and even with a dog, before which they ordinarily perch 
at once, they are very difficult to secure. In such cases, they 
run till they think they are out of shot, and then rise, and 
instead of perching, take a long flight, often of many hundred 
yards, and when they do alight, commence running again. 

"When out feeding they do not usually wander far from 
cover, and on any indication of danger they dart back into 
this. They do not, however, go far in, generally only for a very 
short distance, before stopping to listen, when, if all seems quiet, 
they reappear in a short time within a few yards of the spot 
at which they entered. If, on the contrary, after listening 
they think that there is still danger, they then retreat quietly 
and silently into the far depths of the jungle; occasionally, 
after they have got some distance flying" up and hiding them- 
selves in some bushy tree. 

" When, however, as sometimes, though rarely, happens, they are 
surprised some distance out in the open, they do not run, but 
rise at once and fly for the nearest cover, either perching in 
some leafy tree, or else dropping to the ground. 

" They are very punctual in their appearance at particular 
feeding grounds, and when one or more are met with in any 
particular spot, they are certain, if not disturbed in the interim, 
to be found again in the same place at about the same hour 

30 



234 THE GREY JUNGLE-FOWL. 

the next or any subsequent day on which they may be looked 
for. There was one particularly fine and remarkably shy and 
cunning old cock that frequented an open glade in the forest 
(above the Government Cinchona Plantations at Neddivuttum) 
in the morning, whereas in the evening he always came into the 
plantation and wandered about under the cinchona trees, and 
along the plantation roads. He never, to my knowledge — and 
I must have seen him fifty times at least — came into the planta- 
tion in the morning, or into the glade in the evening. There 
was no doubt as to this being the same bird that frequented the 
two places (nearly a quarter of a mile distant), for he was the 
largest, handsomest, and to judge from his spurs, the oldest 
cock I ever saw. ' I loved that cock as a brother I did,' and at 
last I circumvented and shot him. 

" The best time to shoot the Jungle-Cock is from October to 
the end of May, as then his hackles are in the best condition. 

" In June the moult begins, and the male gradually drops 
his hackles and long tail feathers, the hackles being replaced by 
short feathers, as in the female ; during the rains the male is a poor 
mean looking object, not in the least like his handsome self in the 
cold weather, and, fully conscious of this fact, he religiously 
holds his tongue during this period. 

" In September, a second moult takes place, the short feathers 
of the neck are again replaced by the hackles, the long tail 
feathers re-appear, and by October the moult is complete and 
our- Southern Chanticleer as noisy as ever. 

" The male usually carries its tail low, and when running, it 
does so with the tail lowered still more, the neck outstretched, 
and the whole body in a crouching position as in the Pheasants. 

" I do not know for certain whether the species is polygamous 
or monogamous, but from what I have observed I should think 
the latter ; for although the male does not, I believe, assist in in- 
cubation, yet when the chicks are hatched, he is often to be 
found in company with his mate and little ones. 

" These birds are, I believe, quite untamable, even when 
reared from the egg, and though in the latter case they may 
not be so wild as those captured in maturity, they never take 
kindly to domestic life, and avail themselves of the first oppor- 
tunity for escaping. It is needless to say that they cannot 
easily be induced to breed in captivity. I have known the ex- 
periment tried time after time unsuccessfully. 

" Numbers are trapped by the professional fowlers of 
Southern India, and brought for sale, together with Pavo cris- 
tatns, and Perdicula asiatica, to the stations on the Nilgiris, 
where cocks in good plumage may be purchased for about 8 annas 
each. Numbers are also brought to Madras from the Red Hills, 
where they are even cheaper. When caught, the eyes are closed 
by a thread passed through the upper and under eyelids and then 
knotted together ; a short string is then tied to one leg. and the 



THE GREY JUNGLE-FOWL. 235 

other end made fast to a long stick. A number of birds are 
placed side by side on this stick, which is then carried about 
on a man's head. The poor blind birds remain quite quiet, not 
attempting to flutter or escape. 

" Except for his feathers or as a specimen, the Grey Jungle- 
Cock is hardly worth shooting; the breast alone is really 
eatable, and even at the best the breast is very dry and hard. 

" They roost on trees. Continually in the early mornings, 
just at daylight, when out shooting Sambhur, I have disturbed 
them from the trees on which they had spent the night. 

" Although armed with most formidable spurs, they are not, 
so far as my experience goes, quarrelsome or pugnacious. In 
the wild state I have never seen them fighting, and I for many 
years enjoyed peculiar opportunities for observing them. In 
captivity half a dozen, with as many females, will live in the 
same compartment of an aviary in perfect peace. 

"Another proof of their non-belligerent character is to be 
found in the fact that the native bird-catchers never peg males 
out to attract others, as they do in every part of the East with 
all birds that are naturally pugilistic. Scores of times I have 
listened to two cocks crowing at each other vigorously from 
closely adjoining patches of cover, but neither apparently ever 
thinking of, as an American would say, going for that other cock. 

" They are, I think, altogether less plucky birds than the Red 
Jungle-Fowl, and they are so extremely wary, where birds and 
animals of prey are concerned, and wander such short dis- 
tances from the edges of cover, that I think very few of them 
fall victims to any enemy but man. There are plenty of 
Bonelli's Eagle and some Hawk-Eagles too in the Nilgiris, but 
I do not think that these ever succeed in capturing Grey, as they 
do elsewhere Red, Jungle-Fowl ; at any rate, I have never once 
seen the feathers of sonnerati strewed about, as I have those of 
ferrnginens in Burma. 

" Their great timidity and watchfulness result in their yield- 
ing much less sport than the Red Jungle-Fowl. You may get 
these latter in standing crops and in many other similar situa- 
tions without any extraordinary precautions, but the Grey 
Jungle-Fowl never goes more than a few yards inside the fields, 
and if a stick cracks, or a sound is heard anywhere within 50 
yards, he vanishes into the jungle, whence it is impossible to 
flush him. Only when beating the narrow well-defined belts 
of tree jungle that run down the ravines on the hill sides in 
the Nilgiris, and which we there call " sholas," is anything 
like real sport to be got out of them. Then indeed the gun at the 
tail end of the shola may get 3 or 4 good shots in succession, 
as they rise at the end of the cover and fly off with a strong 
well-sustained flight to the next nearest patch. Even thus, work- 
ing hard and beating shola after shola, a man will be lucky to 
bag five or six brace in a day. 



236 THE GREY JUNGLE-FOWL. 

" The reason is, that all the well-defined sholas which can be 
thoroughly beaten are in the higher parts of the hills, where the 
birds are comparatively rare, while, when you get lower down, 
where the birds are plentiful, the jungles are so large that they 
cannot be effectively worked. If you merely want to kill the 
birds, you might get perhaps ten or a dozen in a short time 
poking along some of the roads, but they afford no sport thus, 
only a series of pot shots. 

" I remember once watching an old cock that my dogs had 
driven up into a tree. For some time I peered round and round 
(the tree was a large and densely-foliaged one) without being 
able to discover his whereabouts, he all the while sitting silent 
and motionless. At last my eyes fell upon him, that instant he 
hopped silently on to another bough and from that to another, 
and so on with incredible rapidity, till, reaching the opposite 
side of the tree, he flew out silently, of course never giving me 
a chance at a shot. 

" As for food, they seem to eat almost anything ; grain, 
grass seed, grubs, small fruits and berries, and insects of differ- 
ent kinds. I have sometimes killed them with nothing but 
millet in their crops ; at other times quantities of grass seeds, 
or again, after the grass has been recently burnt, the tender 
juicy shoots of the new grass." 

I must, however, note that all my correspondents are not so 
convinced of the peaceful propensities of this species as is 
Davison. Miss Cockburn says : " The pugnacity of these birds 
is something incredible. On one occasion, when my brother was 
out shooting, he heard in the jungle near him the peculiar under- 
toned notes that the cocks emit when fighting. After a few 
minutes the sound ceased, and on reaching the spot whence the 
sounds had proceeded, he found two Jungle-Cocks dead, and one 
of his dogs by them,. On examining the birds, both their heads 
proved to bear the marks of the dog's teeth, which could only 
be accounted for by the supposition that they were so busy 
fighting that they failed to observe the dog's approach, and 
were so closely pecking each other's heads that the dog seized 
both heads at once ; for if she had seized only one, the other 
bird would have been out of reach before she could have made 
a second bite. You will admit that they only met with due 
retribution for indulging in such a reprehensible amusement 
as cock-fighting." 

A brief note on the habits of this species as observed at Abu^ 
sent me many years ago by Dr. King, may be added. He says : 
"The Grey Jungle-Fowl is not uncommon even now (1868) on 
Abu, but it is evidently far less plentiful than it was some years 
ago, if the accounts of Shikaris are true. It prefers low valleys 
at the very base of the hill, but ascends as far as the plateaux 
of Uriya and Jewai at the feet of the Gurusikhar (about 4,800 
feet). 



THE GREY JUNGLE-FOWL. 237 

" Both sexes are very wary indeed, but the male is especially so. 
The males are mostly solitary (I speak of the habits in the hot 
weather and rains only), while the females keep in small groups 
of from 3 to 6. 

" In the hot weather this species keeps on the ground all day, 
but rests on trees at night, whereas during the rains it is often 
found in trees by day also. 

" In the hot weather the male is particularly noisy in the morn- 
ings and evenings, but in the rains he hardly crows at all at 
any time. 

" The crow of the male is a broken shrill ak-a-ak-khee given 
forth very deliberately, and only at intervals, as the bird stalks 
slowly along. When alarmed he gives out a rapid chick, exact- 
ly like that of a domestic cock, calling as he runs. When much 
alarmed he flies silently but rapidly and strongly. 

" The female gives voice but rarely, but with great volubility 
when she does so. Her voice is hoarse, and the call may be 
represented by the syllables dk-d-dk-d-dk or uk-d-uk-a-uk. It is 
rapidly repeated." 

Writing- also from Abu, Captain Butler remarks : — 

" The ' cordon' system of driving is usually adopted in 
shooting them here. The guns are placed behind screens 
made previously by the ' Shikaris' at the ends of patches of 
jungle the birds are known to affect, and the beaters are sent 
round to drive the birds up to them, forming a semi-circular line 
to prevent the birds escaping at the sides. It is very poor sport, 
you seldom or never get a flying shot, and when you do, the 
jungle is so thick that it is about 10 to 1 you miss. The birds, 
especially the old cocks, are remarkably wary, and the moment 
they hear the beaters they begin to run, stopping about every 
50 yards to listen. 

" They have a very quick eye, and alter their course imme- 
diately if they see or hear the slightest thing in front. The only 
way, therefore, when you know a bird is coming, is to raise your 
gun silently to your shoulder, turn very quietly in the direction 
from which it is coming, and remain perfectly motionless, and 
as soon as ever the bird gets within shot, fire. 

" I have shot them with dogs, but that is equally poor sport. 
As soon as the Jungle-Fowl sees the dog, he flies up into a tree 
and squats upon a bough until you dislodge him from his sup- 
posed place of security with a charge of shot." 

Common as this species is over such a vast tract of country, 
more exact information in regard to its nidification is still a 
desideratum. Two eggs were taken in May when I was at 
Abu, but as to the breeding season and other particulars I must 
let my correspondents speak. 

Writing from Kotagiri in the Nilgiris, Miss Cockburn 
remarks : " The hen forms her nest in woods on the ground, 



238 THE GREY JUNGLE-FOWL. 

gathering a few dry leaves and sticks about her. The number 
of eggs found in a nest is from seven to thirteen. They are of a 
dirty white or buff colour. The hen, when leaving the nest to 
seek food, generally covers the eggs with dry leaves, no doubt 
hoping by so doing to screen them from harm. These nests are 
found during March and April. I have on two or three occa- 
sions set Jungle-Fowls' eggs under domestic hens, and reared the 
young. It was amusing to see how soon they showed signs of 
their wild nature. When about a fortnight or three weeks' old, 
their wing feathers were so long as to enable them to fly up 
into trees at any moment, while their foster-mother stood below 
wondering at an accomplishment she never witnessed in her own 
progeny. At night they much preferred roosting on some tree 
in the garden, and when a few months old they invariably went 
off to the woods." 

On the other hand, Mr. Davison, referring more particularly 
to his experience at Neddivattam on the other side of Ootaca- 
mund, says : " The Grey Jungle-Fowl breeds in October, 
November, and December. There never is any nest to speak 
of, the eggs being merely laid on some dry leaves, under clumps 
of trees, or a bush far in the jungle. The number of eggs in a 
nest apparently varies from six to ten." 

Dr. Jerdon again tells us : " The hen lays from February to 
May, generally laying from seven to ten eggs of a pinky cream 
colour, under a bamboo clump." 

Lastly, Mr. Wait, writing from Coonoor, informs me that 
" the Grey Jungle-Fowl also breeds here. The egg is oval, of 
a deep buff colour, and measures 175 by i'i25. 

"They lay in May and June." 

According to this, these irregular-minded birds lay in different 
parts of the Nilgiris from October to June, — a fact which 
requires further verification. It must, however, be borne in mind 
that different portions of the Nflgiris are more and less re- 
spectively under the influence of the north-east and south-west 
monsoons, and that this may materially affect the breeding season 
of this species, as it does of the Herons and other water birds. 

Mr. Davidson, C.S., says : " I found it breeding in Satara, in 
March and April, but in Mysore in July." 

Mr. Mclnroy writes : " I have seen chicks of about a week old, 
both in April and November, within a few miles of Hunsur, 
(S. W. Mysore.)" 

Writing from Abu Dr. King noted that " the eggs were 
found here from the middle of April to the end of May. The 
nest was described by the Bhils and Shikaris (for I never 
went down to take one myself) as similar to that of the Spur 
Fowl (G. spadiceus), but larger, and like it placed in clumps of 
bamboo or other thick undergrowth." 

The eggs vary much in size, shape, and tint, but there are two 
extreme forms between which all others are intermediate links— 



THE GREY JUNGLE-FOWL. 239 

the one is a long oval, with a fine compact hen's egg-like shell, of a 
very pale creamy white colour, and with only a faint gloss ; the 
other has a comparatively coarse shell, conspicuously pitted all 
over with pores after the fashion of Guinea Fowls' or Peahens', 
but yet glossy, is of a broad oval shape, slightly pointed to- 
wards the smaller end, and of a rich, almost deep, cafe azt lait. 

Between these two types, which no one but an oologist would 
at first sight believe to belong to the same species, every inter- 
mediate form, some of them thickly speckled in parts with 
brownish red, are metwith. 

The eggs vary from i*68 to 2*05 in length, and from V2l to 
1*5 in breadth ; but the average of twenty-five eggs measured 
is 184 by 1*38. 



The dimensions of this species are as follows : — 

Males. — Length, 280 to 32^0 ; expanse, 27*0 to 31*0; wing, 
9*35 to 9*65 ; tail from vent, 14*0 to 16*0 ; tarsus, 2*85 to 3*0 ; 
bill from gape, 1*28 to 1*3. Weight, lib. 10 ozs. to 2lbs. 8 ozs. 
Length of spur, 1-3 to 175. 

The legs and feet are yellow, or reddish yellow, and the claws 
black, but I have one specimen, probably a young bird, noted as 
having had the legs and feet greenish brown. The bill in the 
adult is, more or less of it, black, the upper mandible often 
yellowish at base, and the lower mandible also pale horny, but in 
younger birds the upper mandible is horny or greenish brown, 
and the lower mandible yellow. The irides of the adults are 
yellow or reddish orange, occasionally bright red, in younger 
birds yellowish brown. 

Females. — Length, 18*0 to 20*0 ; expanse, 26*0 to 27*0 : wing, 
yS to 8*3; tail from vent, &o to 7*0; tarsus, 2"2 to 2*55 ; 
bill from gape, 1*02 to 1*2. Weight, lib. 9 ozs. to lib. 12 ozs. 

The legs and feet are brownish yellow, brownish fleshy in 
younger birds, in both cases dusky or dingy on the feet. The 
upper mandible in the adult dark horny brown, the lower 
mandible white, yellow at the base. In younger birds entirely 
pale horny brown. The irides bright red, yellower in some, 
duller and browner in younger birds. 

In the male the whole of the large comb, bare facial skin, 
and large wattles are bright crimson. In younger birds the 
comb and wattles are smaller and not so brightly coloured. 

The female has no wattles, and the rudimentary comb and 
bare facial skin is less brightly coloured than in the male. 

The Abu birds run rather larger and considerably heavier, 
I think, than the Nilgiri ones. 



The Plate conveys a good idea of the bird, but does scant 
justice to the brilliancy of the sealing-wax-like spots that 
adorn the tips of the hackles. 







iwi 







F.Waller, Chromo Lith. 18, Hallo n Garden, London 



CALLUS STAN LEVI. 



tit iifin nnwuHravL 



Gallus lafayettii, Lesson, 



VornaCUlai 1 Names-— [Wali-kukula, Ceyhn. 3 




ITH this handsome species, which is entirely confined 
to the Island of Ceylon, I have unfortunately no 
personal acquaintance, and can only, therefore, re- 
produce what others have recorded in regard to it 



"The Ceylon Jungle-Fowl," says Mr. Holds- 
worth, " is remarkable not only for being pecu- 
liar to the island, but also for being common in all parts of 
it where the country is uncultivated and there is jungle of a 
moderate height Although especially abundant in the low 
country, it is often very numerous even on the upper hills, and 
is attracted to the particular localities where the " nilloo" the 
native name for some species of Strobilanthes growing at 5,000 
feet and upwards, is, at the time, in seed. 

"At daybreak the crow of the Jungle-Cock is first heard ; 
and for an hour or two after sunrise, if the birds are at all 
numerous, they may be heard challenging each other on all 
sides. On these occasions a successful shot may sometimes 
be obtained by remaining perfectly still between two birds 
which are challenging and gradually approaching each other. 
Some of the native hunters are very expert in calling the 
Jungle-Cocks, by beating on a loose fold of their cloth, so as to 
produce an imitation of the sound of a bird's wings just as it is 
alighting : no time must be lost with the gun on these occasions, 
as the cocks discover the deception the moment they get 
sight of you, and instantly run off with drooping tails like 
Pheasants. 

" It is not difficult in favourable jungle to approach a calling 
bird within easy shot ; and under these circumstances I have 
generally found the cock strutting up and down a low horizon- 
tal branch of a tree, raising and lowering its head, and every 
now and then giving utterance to its peculiar crow, which has 
been likened to the sound of " George Joyce." When the bird 
is tolerably close, the syllable " ek" is heard preceding those two 
sounds, which are so familiar to persons who have been wander- 

3i 



242 THE CEYLON JUNGLE-FOWL. 

ing in the jungles of Ceylon. In some of the wilder jungle- 
roads, a cock and hen may sometimes be seen feeding together ; 
but generally the hens are very shy, and not many of them 
are killed." 

Again, Mr. Layard tells us that : — " The Jungle-Fowl is 
abundant in all the uncultivated portions of Ceylon, but 
particularly so in the Northern and North-Western Provinces. 

" It comes out to feed morning and evening, upon the roads, 
cultivated lands, or other open places. The cocks are generally 
seen alone, seldom in company with their hens, who, however, 
are always in the neighbourhood, and keep together, even 
though their broods may be of very different ages. The cocks 
fight most desperately, the combat frequently terminating in 
the death of one of the engaged parties. As they not unfire- 
quently mingle with the fowls of the lonely villages, they cross 
with the domestic breed, being more than a match in courage 
for the plebeian dunghill cocks, and armed with tremendous 
and sharp spurs. 

" In wet weather Jungle-Fowl keep much to thick trees, sitting 
disconsolately, with drooping head and tail, among the 
branches ; they also roost in trees at night, retiring to rest 
early. It is rarely that a bird can be flushed ; but when they 
do fly, it is very much in the manner of the Pheasant ; they 
run with incredible swiftness, and trust to their powers in this 
respect for safety. Their cry is a short crow, which resembles 
the words George Joyce, sharply repeated." 

The following ancedote, though often told, is too good to be 
omitted. Layard says : — 

" I once saw a fight between a tame and a wild cock, which 
terminated most ludicrously ; the owner of the tame bird ran 
in and requested the loan of my gun to shoot the stranger. 
I asked him if he could shoot, when he drew himself up with 
* Sare, I one soldier before :' of course he had the gun directly, 
and taking a murderous aim from the window, he fired, knocked 
over his own bird and missed the Jungle-Fowl. His mortified 
face I never shall forget ; and his soliloquy over the body 
was almost as fine as Hamlet's." 

My friend Captain Legge, whose splendid monograph of the 
Birds of Ceylon should be in every ornithologist's hands, writes 
to me : — 

" The Ceylon Jungle- Fowl inhabits in abundance the greater 
part of the island. In the low country it is located in the greatest 
numbers in the northern, eastern, and south-eastern divisions, 
which, covered with jungle and possessed of a dry climate, 
are specially suitable to the habits of the bird. 

" Throughout all the northern forests, from the Jaffna 
Peninsula along the base of the Matale ranges, and thence 
eastward and westward to the coasts, it is universally spread, 
and is particularly numerous in the scrubby maritime districts. 



THE CEYLON JUNGLE-FOWL, 243 

Along the south-east coast the vegetation is of this character, 
and the dense tangled ' bushes' from Tangalla northwards past 
Tala, and thence on towards Batticaloa, teem with Jungle-Fowl, 

" In the damper jungles of the south-west, and those clothing 
the interior of the Western Province, it is far less numerous ; 
and in the Colombo district it is a bird which is not frequently 
met with. 

" In the Kandyan Province it is a well-known bird, inhabiting 
the jungles in the coffee districts, and ascending during the 
dry season into the forests of the main range, in which the 
nilloo plant is very abundant, the berry of which has for it the 
most irresistible attractions. 

" The cock birds are, as is the case with other species, most 
pugnacious, and pass their time in the mornings and evenings 
in giving out their well-known challenge call, ' Cluk George 
Joyce" accompanied with the usual galline flap of the wings. 
By using a pocket-handkerchief doubled up into a ball, placed 
in the palm of the hand, and struck with the other, this sound 
can be fairly imitated, and if the sportsman be out of sight, 
well concealed in a hollow in the ground, or behind a huge 
log or stump, the cocks can be enticed near enough to be shot ; 
they are so shy, however, that if the least sound be made other 
than this flapping, they turn round and disappear at once into 
the thicket. The natives produce the required sound by 
striking the thigh with the open hand, slightly curved ; and 
both Cingalese and Tamils shoot the Jungle-Fowl for the market 
by thus decoying them. 

" While challenging each other, the males often wander close 
to paths and tracks through the jungle, and still keep up 
their call, although people may be passing, and laughing and 
shouting going on ; but directly you strike off the road to stalk 
them, the sound of footsteps puts an end to the George 
Joyce, and the pugnacious bird may be heard rapidly beating 
a retreat over the fallen leaves. 

" At night they roost on trees, but do not choose very high 
branches, generally seating themselves across a moderately 
elevated horizontal limb, and when going to rest they utter a 
clucking note very different to the ordinary call. 

" The hens are seldom seen near the cocks, and are very shy ; 
they may be sometimes surprised in the early morning scratch- 
ing by the sides of roads with their young brood, but on the 
whole are much more seldom observed than the other sex." 

The Messrs. Hart remark : — 

" This species is very local in its distribution, but it equally 
inhabits both high and low lands. It is, however, most common 
and easily procured in dry and sandy places where bamboo 
jungle and dense prickly thickets abound. 

" It lives chiefly upon various kinds of wild seeds and grain, 
and more especially on white ants. We have often seen this 



244 T?IE CEYLON JUNGLE-FOWL, 

species enter cultivated fields in large flocks, scratching and 
picking up the grain with great ease until disturbed by the 
approach of some passer-by." 

As TO their nidification Mr. Layard says : " The hen selects a 
decaying stump or thick bush for a nesting place, and lays 
from six to twelve eggs of a rich cream colour, finely mottled 
with reddish brown spots. Axis, one inch nine lines ; diameter, 
one inch four lines. The young when just hatched resemble 
young chickens, and the old mother leads them to decaying 
prostrate trees and scratches for white ants, which they eagerly 
devour. They are hatched in June." 

Captain W. V. Legge, writing to me from Ceylon, says : 
" Like Galloper dix zeylonensis, the Ceylon Jungle-Fowl would 
appear to nest throughout a considerable portion of the year, or 
else during the north-east monsoon, at different times, the same 
pair rearing more than one brood and thus continuing to lay 
until late into each season ; the latter may no doubt be the cor- 
rect hypothesis. The facts of the case are these however ; 
young broods may be seen about with the parents in the south- 
west of the island as early as February. I have seen the same 
in the south-east at the beginning of July, and have taken eggs 
in the southern mountains on the 8th August. 

" The nest is situated in the jungle or forest, under the shelter 
of a tree, log, or bush, and consists of a hole or slight hollow 
scraped in the ground and a few leaves for lining. I have found 
it placed close to the trunk of a forest tree between two project- 
ing surface roots. The eggs are from two to four in number, 
and vary in size and depth of ground colour, and also in the 
quantity of the scanty markings which characterise them. 

" Four specimens varied from 1*62 to 177 in length, and 
from 1*26 to 1 '3 5 in breadth. Two taken from the same nest 
are reddish huff with minute calcareous specks on the whole 
surface. The other two are stone white, finely stippled all over 
with minute points of reddish grey, the former with a few faint 
small spots of the same hue at the obtuse end, the latter spotted 
more numerously at the same end with brownish red. 

" The young brood continue with the mother for about two 
months, by which time they are three parts full grown. They 
seem to evince considerable attachment to the parent, as I once 
shot a hen in the Eastern Province that was feeding by the side 
of a jungle track with three grown-up young ones, which 
evinced considerable reluctance to leave her, running to and fro 
for a sufficient time to have allowed me to have shot them all. 

" At times when the nilloo, a plant whose seed the Jungle- 
Fowl greatly affects, is in flower, great numbers resort to the 
jungles of the upper hills of the Nuvara Elia District. In 
1868, a friend informs me, they bred on the Haughton Plains, 
not far from the sanitarium, in large numbers. In April the 



THE CEYLON JUNGLE-FOWL. 245 

young broods were about with the hens, and when disturbed either 
took refuge in the undergrowth or flew off in the trees. My 
friend informs me that they were so numerous and apparently 
so stupefied by the juice of the nilloo berry, that he could have 
knocked over dozens with a stick as they alighted on the 
branches of the low jungle." 

Messrs. Hart say : " This species breeds throughout a con- 
siderable portion of the year, laying 4 to 8 eggs of a dull-white 
hue, and sometimes mottled with feeble purplish or reddish brown 
spots, specks, or blotches. It selects usually bamboo clumps or 
dense thickets for its nesting place, but in some instances 
apparently prefers shady ant-hills or the hollow of a decayed 
tree. 

" We have also on two or three occasions found the eggs of this 
species laid in a depression of the bare sand or on the decayed 
trunks of trees without any nest lining of dried leaves or 
grass." 

One egg sent me from Ceylon by Mr. Legge, taken in June 
1874, is a very regular oval, of the usual hen's egg shape, only 
slightly more pointed at one end than another. The shell is fine, 
smooth and glossy ; the ground a delicate cafe au lait, every- 
where minutely speckled with brownish red, and besides this 
sparingly spotted (the largest spot being about 0*08 in diameter) 
about the more obtuse end, with rather bright brownish red. 

This egg measures 171 by 1*3 r. 



For the dimensions and other particulars of 25 adults I am 
indebted to Messrs. Hart : — 

Males. — Length, 19-0 to 25-0; expanse, 28'0 to 30'0 ; wing, 
8*5 to 9/0 ; tail from vent, 8*o to 14-0 ; tarsus, 275 to 3-2 ; bill 
from gape, 1*25 to 1*5 ; spur, ro to 1*3. Weight, 2lbs. to 2lbs. 
5 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 15*0 to i6 - o ; expanse, 23*0 to 25*0 ; wing, 
7*2 to 8*0; tail from vent, 5-0 to &o ; tarsus, 2*1 to 2*5 ; bill 
from gape, 1*1 to 1*25. Weight, lib. 2 ozs. to lib. 6 ozs. 

Bill brown ; front of the lower mandible pale yellow ; irides 
buff ; comb, wattles, and naked skin about the head in some 
yellowish in some purplish red, the comb having a large wing 
shaped or oval spot of yellow occupying the middle of the 
posterior half, very bright at its origin immediately over the eye, 
and shading off at its margin into the colour of the comb ; feet 
and legs pale yellow. 

The size and shape of the yellow spot on the comb varies 
much. 

In the female the comb is very small, almost rudimentary ; 
there are no wattles, and the facial skin is thickly feathered, not 
bare as in the two other species. 



246 THE CEYLON JUNGLE-FOWL. 

The Plate conveys, I believe, a very excellent general idea of 
both sexes of the species, but the legs are totally wrongly 
coloured, and the bills are not right. 



Only FOUR species of Jungle-Fowl are at present admitted, the 
three above dealt with and G alius var ins ot Java* and other is- 
lands, but I think it probable that Gallus ceneus of Sumatra, 
and perhaps one or two others at present degraded under the 
appellation of hybrids may prove to be good species. 

Our three species all have a serrated comb and two lateral 
wattles, whereas varius has an entire comb, no side wattles, but 
the gular skin largely centrally developed. 

Much, as previously remarked, has been written as to the 
origin of the various races of domestic fowls, but considering 
that we do not yet really know how many or what wild species 
there are, and that fowls have probably been under domestica- 
tion for between 4,000 and 5,000 years, I do not think, as already 
hinted on other grounds, that much profit is to be gained from 
the discussion. 

* Mr. Whampoa, at Singapore, showed Davison a very fine living male of this 
species, presented to him by the Maharajah of Johore, who assured him that it had 
been captured in his own territories. 




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Galloperdix spadiceus, Gmelin. 



Vernacular Names.— [Chota Jungl'i Murghi (Muhammadans) Central Piovinces, 
Belgaum, &>c.j Chakatri, Chakotre, Kokatri (Mahratti) Sahyddri Range; 
Kustoor (Mahratti) Decern ; Sarava koli, (Tamil) ; Yerra-kodi, Jitta-kodi, 
(Telugu) j Ispur-koli, (anglicised Shikaris of) Nilgiris.] 




AM wholly unable at present to define with any degree 
of accuracy the respective ranges of this and the 
Painted Spur-Fowl. 

In the first place, we have an apparently isolated 
colony residing in the Tarai of the central section 
of the Himalayas, extending from the Gorakhpur 
Tarai, where I have myself shot it in former years, 
to, at any rate, the borders of the Kheyri or Lakhimpur and 
Shahjahanpur districts.* 

This colony does not extend southwards to any distance 
from the Tarai I believe ; nor does it, I conclude, get further 
east than Gorakhpur, since Mr. Hodgson, who obtained 
all the birds of the Tarai south of Khatamandoo {i.e., north of 
the Chumparun and Tirhoot districts,) never obtained it ; 
neither have I heard of it as far west as Pilibhit. 

Setting aside this isolated colony, this species occurs no- 
where else, I believe, north of a line running across India, 
which may be roughly indicated as commencing in the 
Arvalis north-east of Abu, not far from Beaur, and running thence 
by Saugor and the Vindhyas near Jubbulpore along the Ky- 
more range to the Rajmehal Hills. 

Even south cf this line the distribution is most irregular, 
and there are large tracts perfectly suitable in their character 
(such as the Vindhyas east of Chota Oodeypore and west of 
Saugor) in regard to which I have no record of its occurrence. 

Kharakpur and the Rajmehal Hills I give on Jerdon's 
authority. Baldwin shot it on the Katra Pass, south of Mirza- 
pur, and Thomson says : " First observed on the Kymore range 
80 miles south of Mirzapur ; found in the valley of the Sone 
River ; common on the Vindhyas near Jubbulpore and Mandla ; 
abundant in suitable localities on the Maikal or Amarkantak 

* Mr. Vernon has just sent me two specimens shot at Loharna on the Kathney 
River, 25 miles W.-N.-W. of Lakhimpur. 



248 THE RED SPUR-FOWL, 

range east of Mandla ; plentiful in the Satpuras between the 
Waino-an^a river on the east and the Pachmarhi hills on the 
west." 

From 30 or 40 miles west of Beaur, it is common along 
the Arvalis to Mount Abu, and thence in the hilly portions of 
Mahi Kantha and Rewa Kantha, the lower sections at any rate 
of the valleys of the Tapti and Nerbudda, the westernmost 
portions at least of the Vindhyas, Chota Oodeypore, and the 
entire Satpuras, with all southern ramifications, Meilghat and 
Chekaldeh. 

Specimens have occurred to my knowledge in Seoni,inRaipur, 
in Bhandara, and in the Tributary Mahals. Ball gives it from 
Sambalpur south of the Mahanadi ; and Tickell gives the 
southern part of Singbhoom as a locality for it. 

It occurs in the Wardha valley near Chanda, and in Orissa 
north of the Mahanadi. 

Further its range extends along the entire Western* Ghats 
from the valley of the Tapti, (Lanauli, Khandala, Matheran,f 
Mahabaleshwar, &c.) right down the Malabar Coast ; over the 
Wynaad, Calicut, the Nilgiris,the Palghat,the Pulney and Sherve- 
roy hills, and even the low hills close to Madras itself ; to the 
lower Godavari valley and the Northern Circars to Goomsoor. 

It is entirely unknown in Rajputana, west and north of 
the Arvalis from Beaur (which it scarcely reaches) to Abu 
in Northern Guzerat, Cutch, Kathiawar, Sind, the Punjab, the 
North-Western Provinces, north of the Jumna, Oudh, Bengal, 
north and east of the Ganges, and other Eastern Provinces, 
excepting always the Oudh Tarai colony, which may possibly 
just extend into the Tarais of Rohilkhand and Behar. 

Certainly the distribution of the Red Spur-Fowl is as yet very 
imperfectly understood, and it inosculates so strangely with 
that of the Painted Spur- Fowl, as will be seen when I come to 
deal with that species, that at present I can make nothing of 
the question. Both species seem to me to affect almost the same 
localities and to have exactly the same habits, to be in fact 
complemental species, like the Red and Grey Jungle-Fowl, or the 
Black and Painted Partridges, &c, and the way in which they 
seem to overlap each other's areas of distribution by many 
hundreds of miles is therefore most inexplicable. I need perhaps 
scarcely add that this species is essentially Indian and occurs 
nowhere out of India. 



* "Common," writes Mr. Vidal, "in the same localities as the Grey Jungle-Fowl 
in all the thick forests of the Sahyadri Range, and more especially so at the summit 
in the tract called the Konkan Ghat Mahta. A few Spur-Fowl are also found here 
and there in large temple forests, with thick undergrowth, in the Thai, Konkan, or 
country below the Ghats ; but they are rare in such localities, and do not, as a 
rule, leave the thick evergreen jungles of the main range." 

t " Its call," says Mr. James, "is one of the most conspicuous sounds at Matheran, 
where it is very common." 



(Slip to face page 248 J 



Captain O'Moore Creagh informs me that he is nearly certain 
that he has seen this species close to the Ana-Sagur Lake 
at Ajmere, and that he has actually seen it killed, of this he says 
there is no doubt, in the Hills of Ulwur. 



THE RED SPUR-FOWL. 249 

The Red Spur- Fowl ranges from near sea level to an eleva- 
tion at Abu, the Pulneys, and the Ni'lgiris of 4,000 to 5,000 
feet ; indeed, on the latter it has been shot at over 7,500 feet. 

It is essentially a bird of forests and jungle, on hilly and 
broken land. It is unsafe to generalize from one's own limited 
personal experience, but I have the impression that the Red 
Spur- Fowl goes in more for forests and earth, and that the 
Painted one more affects scrub jungle and rocks. You rarely, if 
ever, find the Red, you constantly find the Painted Spur- Fowl in 
very rocky ground. 

During the day they are but seldom seen and are with 
difficulty flushed (even with the aid of dogs) from forest 
patches and thickets in which they are known to be, but in the 
mornings and evenings they may be seen busy, feeding about 
like domestic fowls, amongst low brushwood or even in stubble 
fields on the outskirts of the jungle. 

It is, however, very wary and often as you may thus observe 
them from some little distance, it will only be quite by chance 
that you succeed in getting within shot of them whilst thus 
feeding. 

On the slightest sound, the alarm is given, and the birds 
disappear into the forest, either darting in on foot or flying 
up into trees, where, hopping from bough to bough amongst 
the thick foliage, or hiding in some dense tuft of parasites, they 
are hopelessly lost to the sportsman. 

At the breeding season they are always in pairs ; at other 
times they keep in small flocks of from five to ten. 

Though I have never seen them drinking, I think that water 
must be a great attraction to them, for when in March and April 
most of the streamlets dry up, all the Spur- Fowl for miles round 
will be found collected in the few deep, jungly ravines, down 
which a little water still trickles. 

The Red Spur-Fowl cooked gipsy-fashion is excellent, better, 
I think, than any of our Partridges, because it is more gamey ; 
but cooked in the ordinary manner by native cooks, out in the 
jungles, it is dry, hard and poor. 

Their food consists chiefly, according to my experience, of 
grain and seeds of all kinds, and small jungle fruit, the berries 
of the dwarf Zizyphus (Jherbery)^ the figs of the Peepul and its 
congeners, but I have often found the remains of bugs, beetles, 
and other insects in their crops mixed with these. 

Although I have shot a good many of this species, I know 
very little of its habits ; it is a very sly lurking bird, and almost 
the only time one sees it is when, roused by a happy chance 
near one by dogs or beaters, it springs up with a strong whir- 
ring flight, and a loud screaming chuckle, or when a momentary 
glance is caught of it crossing some little path or darting round 
a distant bush. Indeed, they run so fast, and so much oftener 
run than fly, that I hold it in their case quite allowable to shoot 

32 



250 THE RED SPUR-FOWL. 

them like rabbits, and I have killed many more by firing into 
bushes behind which they were disappearing than on the wing. 
When you have the luck to flush them, they offer an easy shot 
and are brought down with light shot and at long distances, 
but if not stone dead, they can never hardly be found without 
dogs, as they not only run like greyhounds, but if badly hit 
will creep into any hole about the roots of trees or even in 
the ground. 

Jerdon says that their call is a sort of crowing cry ; I have 
never heard any attempt at crowing on their part ; they are 
rather silent birds, but when a covey has been broken up, you 
may hear them after a time calling to each other with a sort 
of cackling cry, like that of domestic fowls when disturbed, or 
of an old hen after she has laid an egg. I have been unable 
to distinguish the sexes by their voices. 

I have only seen this species in Central and Western India. 
Davison, who has been familiar with them in the Nilgiris, 
says : — 

" The Red Spur-Fowl is found sparingly about the higher por- 
tions of the Nilgiris, but is more common on the lower slopes, 
and in the Wynaad. It is not perhaps quite so easily banished 
by increasing population as is the Grey Jungle-Fowl, a good num- 
ber even yet surviving in the immediate vicinity of the station 
of Ootacamund, where, however, doubtless they are hard enough 
to circumvent. 

" It seems to affect by preference dense and thorny cover in 
the vicinity of cultivation, but is also found in small isolated 
patches of jungle or sholas, and along the outskirts of the 
larger forests. It is perhaps found more numerously on the 
lower portions of the northern and western slopes of the Nil- 
giris. 

" Though, as Dr. Jerdon remarks, two or three Spur-Fowl usu- 
ally form part of a day's bag on the Nilgiris, they are by no 
means easy birds to obtain ; for without dogs it is almost impos- 
sible to flush them, and I have often observed that, even with 
dogs, they will run before these, till they come to some dense 
thorny bush, when they will silently fly up out of reach and 
hide themselves in the thickest part, and once so concealed, it 
is almost impossible to flush them without cutting the bush to 
pieces. When flushed they rise with a cackle, and fly well and 
strong for a couple of hundred yards. Their flight is very like 
that of the Kyah Partridge. They are usually found in small 
coveys of four or five birds, and when flushed do not rise to- 
gether, but at irregular intervals, dispersing in different direc- 
tions ; they are often found in pairs, and not unfrequently I have 
come across single birds. 

" They come into the open in the mornings and evenings to 
feed, and wander about a good deal. Even after they have re- 
tired into the shade they do not rest quietly, but wander about 



THE RED SPUR-FOWL. 25 I 

hither and thither under the trees, scratching about among the 
dead leaves. 

" A well-wooded ravine with plenty of thorny undergrowth 
and with a stream of water in it, is always a favourite resort of 
this species." 

I do not think that this species is in any degree migratory, but 
no doubt in many localities, in hot weather, when all springs 
and pools dry up, the birds shift their quarters a few miles 
to where water is available. With this exception, wherever it 
occurs, it is, I believe, a permanent resident, and there breeds. 



It lays ACCORDING to locality from the end of February 
to the middle of June, and perhaps again in October and 
November, although of this I am not sure. It makes a slight 
nest on the ground, of dry leaves and grass, often in a hollow 
scratched for the purpose, always in more or less dense under- 
growth, and in many parts of the country, I am told (though 
this is not my experience), almost exclusively in bamboo 
thickets. It is, I judge, monogamous ; certainly both cock and 
hen are usually to be found in the vicinity of the nest and in 
company with the young. 

It lays from four to seven eggs, I should say, but others have 
found as many as ten, and I have myself seen a brood of eight 
chicks with one pair of old ones. The hen seems to sit unusual- 
ly close ; at any rate I have twice known one captured by the 
hand, by a native, on the nest. 

" On the Nilgiris," says Davison, " the Spur-Fowl breeds in 
the same localities as the Grey Jungle-Fowl and makes the 
same slight nest. The breeding season, however, is in May and 
June. I have rarely found more than five eggs in a nest. 

" I have found its nest three times," writes Darling ; " once in 
the Wynaad on a rock in the jungle, with a little Citronella grass 
growing on it, the nest being only a few dried pieces of grass, 
containing five eggs, well incubated. Again on the edge of the 
jungle, in thick fern, with seven eggs, which were laid in a hollow 
with a little dried fern in it : this was also in Wynaad. The 
third nest was on the Nflgiris at Kartary. This nest was 
placed in long Citronella grass at the foot of a large tuft, and 
was built neatly of sticks, leaves, and grass and contained six 
eggs well incubated." 

From Kotagiri, Miss Cockburn remarks : " They form their 
nest in woods on the ground among dry leaves, and gene- 
rally lay from six to ten eggs of a dingy white colour, which are 
to be found in the months of February, March, and April." 

From Abu, Dr. King writes to me : " This species is com- 
mon at Abu in the valleys, ranging as high as 4,000 feet, but 
is most plentiful from about 1,500 to 3,000 feet above the sea. 
It prefers dense jungle about nalas, where there is a thick un- 
dergrowth, and especially where there is much bamboo. 



252 THE RED SPUR-FOWL. 

" I never took the nest myself, but its eggs were brought me 
during the early part of May, and my Shikaris and the Bhils 
employed said that the nests were flat and shallow, composed 
of dry bamboo leaves and placed under, or even in the middle 
of, clumps of bamboo, in the deeper valleys." 

" I have frequently seen the young broods," writes Captain 
Butler, " varying in number from four to eight, but have only 
once seen the nest which I found at Mahabaleshwar. It consist- 
ed of a slight depression in the ground, probably scratched by 
the hen bird, amongst a quantity of dead leaves, which formed 
a lining to the nest, in dense low jungle. The eggs, seven in 
number, were of a creamy white colour and glossed from 
incubation. 

" I found this nest in the month of April. I should say 
there is no doubt about these birds being monogamous, as they 
are always in pairs in the breeding season." 

The eggs are typically the same shape as a hen's, but much 
elongated and cylindrical Sand-Grouse-shaped varieties are 
common. All that I have seen have been entirely spotless, 
sometimes almost glossless, at others fairly glossy, and varying 
in colour from a warm pinkish buff to a delicate fawn, a pale 
cafe'au lait, or even creamy white. 

In length they vary from i'55 to 1*85, and in breadth from 
1 '13 to 1 # 3 ; but the average of twenty-five eggs is 1*67 by 1*28. 

The following are some dimensions that I have recorded 
of adults : — 

Males. — Length, 14*0 to 15*0 ; expanse, 18*0 to 20*0 ; wing, 
&2 to 675 ; tail from vent, 5*0 to &o ; tarsus, 17 to 1*87; bill 
from gape, ro to V2. Weight, 11 to 14 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 13*0 to 14*5 ; expanse, 17*0 to 19*0 ; wing, 
5-62 to 6*0 ; tail from vent, 4*5 to 5*3 ; tarsus, 1*65 to 175 ; bill 
from gape, ro to ri. Weight, 9 to 12 ozs. 

The legs and feet are always red, but vary in shade ; old 
adults have them coral, or even vermilion red, young birds dull 
pink ; and light red with a dusky shade, and orange red legs are 
to be seen. 

The irides equally vary ; dull yellow, orange brown, light 
brown, dusky brown. 

The bills are dusky red at base, horny towards the tips, in 
younger birds, purplish on the upper mandible. The male has 
from three to one spur on each leg, very commonly one more 
on one leg than the other. Two on each is however perhaps 
the normal number. Only once have I seen three spurs on both 
legs. 

The hens also have spurs ; at least I have never seen a 
hen bird without one on one leg at any rate ; generally they 
have one on each leg, not unfrequently a second spur on 
one leg. 



THE RED SPUR-FOWL. 253 

The Plate is unsatisfactory. Southern specimens were figured, 
and in these the back and rump of the male are darker and 
duller in colour than is here shown, while the female should be 
redder and less yellow below, and darker and the pale mark- 
ings more buffy, above. 

It may be well to notice that the North-Western examples of 
this species, from Abu for instance, differ very markedly from 
Southern specimens, e.g., those from the Nilgiris. The males 
are much more olivaceous and much less red, and average larger 
I think ; moreover, in the females, the black markings are 
everywhere, but specially on the upper surface, smaller and 
less distinct, and the tone of the entire plumage is much paler. 
I have no doubt that hereafter some one will separate the Abu 
birds as a distinct species. 



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Galloperdix lunulatus, Valenciennes. 



Vernacular ITaiaieS.— [Askol, Orissa and Singhbhodm ; Hootkah, (Gondhi) 
Chanda District. ; Cull-koli, (Tamil) ; Jitta kodi (Telugu.)] 




LTHOUGH the two species cover so much of the 
same ground that this may not appear quite clearly 
from an enumeration of the localities where they 
have each been observed, yet, on the whole, the Red 
Spur-Fowl is the more Western, the Painted Spur- 
Fowl the more Eastern, form. 
The Painted Spur-Fowl has no outlying colony that I 
know of, and its northern boundary is indicated by the Ganges, 
Jumna and Sindh rivers respectively. South of these, we have it 
recorded from Jhansi, Lalitpur, various localities between 
the Sindh and Betwa in Southern Duttiah and Eastern Gwalior, 
from Gyah, the Rajmehal hills, from Rajmehal, Monghyr and 
Beerbhoom, from Singbhoom, Manbhoom, Lohardugga, Sirgooja, 
Jodhpore, Oodeypore, and many places in Chota Nagpore, from 
Seoni, Raipur, Sambalpur, north of the Mahanadi, Bhandara, 
the Ahiri forests, various places in the Tributary Mahals, from 
Nowagarh, Kurial and other of these Bastar Feudatory States 
to the Godavari Valley * These localities seem to indicate head 

* Mr. R. Thompson says : — 

" lam not certain that I did not meet with this on the Kymore range. I more 
than once saw a small Spur-Fowl, frequenting the bamboo jungles, very shy, that 
I could never either shoot or get a good look at, which I am pretty sure must have 
been this species. 

"I did not see this species anywhere in the Maikal or Satpura Ranges. 

"It is, however, the common Spur- Fowl of the Chanda district alike below 
the Ghats and in the Eastern Zemindaries of Panabaras, Kotgal, Koracha, in fact 
everywhere on the high tableland east of the Wainganga. Found wherever 
there is thick bamboo cover on the hills or fringing the streams and nalas descending 
from them. 

" It is an extremely shy bird, becoming, however, bold and familiar on being 
domesticated. 

11 It is very abundant in the jungles near my house in Chanda, where I have 
often seen it feeding in company with the Grey Jungle-Fowl. 

" From Chanda it ranges south-east to Bastar and Sironcha. I saw it frequently 
in the Godavari Valley as low down as the hills north of Rajmandhry in the Madras 
Presidency. In these hills I found it in company with the Red Jungle-Fowl. In Cen- 
tral Bastar between i8° and 19 North Latitude, it was very abundant in deep bamboo 
jungles, where also occasionally I have heard the Red Jungle-Cock crowing. 

" On the Indravati river, 50 miles up from its junction with the Godavari river, 
I have seen and shot the Painted Spur-Fowl and the Grey Jungle-Fowl, without, 
however, having seen or heard of a trace of the Red Jungle-Fowl." 



256 THE PAINTED SPUR-FOWL. 

quarters of the species ; in many of them the Red Spur- Fowl 
does not occur at all, and in most of the others in which it does 
occur, it is only sparsely or as a straggler, while the present 
species is there in force, and as it were at home. 

But though these seem to be the districts where it is most 
numerous, like the Red Spur- Fowl it spreads far wide of these its 
presumed normal limits. 

It has occurred west of Nagpur near Elichpur, and then in 
numerous places in the Peninsula, in the Nulla-mullay range, 
in Kurnool, in Bellary, Cuddapah, the Eastern Ghats inland from 
Nellore, about Tupapore and southwards to near Pondicherry ; 
and again nearly all round the Nilgiris, viz., between Meta- 
polliem and Barliar, between the latter and Coonoor, near Kullar, 
in the Orange Valley below Kotagiri, and on the Segore Ghat, 
and also in the Walliar jungles in the Palghat district. Alto- 
gether, as I said when speaking of the Red Spur-Fowl, the 
areas of distribution of these two species are so marvellously 
interlaced that I cannot at present pretend to disentangle them. 



Neither species are birds of the alluvial plains, and though a 
few may stray into these, their natural homes are jungle-clad 
hills and, in the case of the present species, especially rocky 
hills and their immediate neighbourhoods. 

Like the last species, this Spur-Fowl also is purely Indian. 

As I have only once myself shot or seen this species alive, 
I must content myself with reproducing what others have re- 
corded about it. 

Dr. Jerdon, our great stand-by in all such cases, says : — 

" This handsome Spur- Fowl is especially partial to rocky 
jungles and tangled coverts, and is a very difficult bird to flush, 
taking short and rapid flights, and diving down into some 
impenetrable thicket. I have often seen it running rapidly 
across rocks when the jungles were being beaten for large 
game. 

" From the difficulty of procuring this bird, it is not well 
known to sportsmen in general, even in districts where it is not 
rare, and its qualities for the table are inferior to those of the 
last species, having less flavour and being more dry. Numbers 
are snared in the hills not far from Madras, and they are gene- 
rally procurable in the Madras market. I have kept them in 
confinement for long. They thrive pretty well, but the males 
are very pugnacious. The males have a fine cackling sort of 
call, very fowl-like." 

From Raipur, Mr. F. R. Blewitt writes : " The Painted Spur- 
Fowl is to be met with in numbers in certain localities in the 
hill ranges in the Bhandara and Raipur Districts. Eastward 
it has been found in the low hills dividing the Pithora Native 
State from the Sambalpur District. 



THE PAINTED SPUR-FOWL. 257 

u It is especially partial to low rocky hills covered with im- 
penetrable thicket ; it also affects, though more rarely, bamboo 
jungle. The bird is either met with singly or in pairs ; occa- 
sionally three or four congregate together. In the early morn- 
ing and evening the birds descend to the more open spaces at 
the base of the hills to feed, and from an elevated position may 
be seen very busy running here . and there feeding. During 
the day they retire to the inaccessible thickets above. Very 
wary is the Painted Spur-Fowl. On the slightest alarm it will 
run quickly up-hill to reach the shelter of its favourite haunts ; 
once there it is impossible to flush it again. In the more open 
jungle they are easily flushed, and, though the flight is swift, 
offer an easy shot. The call is a peculiar loud chzcr> chiir^ chur, 
rapidly repeated, anything but ' fowl-like.' " 

Colonel Tickell remarks : — 

" In all places, however, its skulking habits cause it to be very 
seldom seen. It haunts rocky places buried in thorny thickets, 
sometimes the stony jungly beds of nalas or small rivers, but 
more generally the isolated granite hills covered with dense 
brushwood, which are so common a feature in Chota Nagpore. 
It is generally in beating those huge rocks with large bodies of 
men, when bear shooting, that the ' Askal' is seen, and I have 
sometimes observed two or three in the air at a time, flying 
straight, with rapid action of the wings, much like Jungle-Fowl. 
They are flushed but once ; and after alighting, run into fissures 
and holes amongst the rocks, whence there is no dislodging them. 
At Palgunjo, near the Porahaut Hill, which looks in solitary 
grandeur over the now-deserted 'Trunk Road,' formerly the 
great artery of traffic throughout Bengal, I have seen one or two 
flushed in more open ground, where the scrub was scattered and 
thin — rocks at some distance, and the chief cover a few shallow 
ravines." 

Captain Baldwin again says : — 

" The male does not crow like the Jungle-Cock, though both 
sexes make a kind of clucking noise like a true fowl. When run- 
ning these birds carry the tail up, not like a Partridge. I have 
often watched them when hidden behind a bush or rock, waiting 
for the beat to approach ; sometimes over a dozen have run past 
me. They move very fast, and seldom take wing till hard- 
pressed. The flight is swift and rarely at any great height 
from the ground. The birds take a good hard blow to bring 
them down." 



As REGARDS THEIR nidification, I have never myself seen a 
nest, but Mr. Blewitt, writing from Raipur, says : — 

" It breeds certainly from March to May, making simply a 
slight excavation in the ground for the eggs under the shelter 
of a boulder or rock in a thicket. Some time in April 1871 

33 



258 THE PAINTED SPUR-FOWL. 

from such a nest, made at the base of a large boulder in dense 
jungle, the egg-shells were taken from which the chicks had 
just escaped ; again, in the same month, under the ledge of a 
rock in thick underwood in a slight hollow in the earth, two 
fresh eggs were found. 

" Apparently five is the maximum number of the eggs : at 
least, during two seasons, of the many broods met with, no 
single brood of chicks exceeded this number. 

" The parent birds assiduously care for their young, and 
when disturbed exhibit great anxiety for their safety. When 
closely pursued, the old birds endeavour by many artifices to 
draw the attention of the intruders from the spot where the 
chicks lie concealed, and invariably on the cry of a chick 
wounded or captured, the parent birds daringly return to the 
rescue, often to within a dozen yards or so of the sportsman." 

Mr. R. Thompson also sent me eggs of this species taken in 
the Ahiri forests, south-east of Chanda, and remarked : — 

"The nest of the Spur-Fowl was 1 found on 5th April, when 
there were only two eggs in it. The eggs were placed on the 
bare ground, in a depression overhung by the trunk of a fallen 
tree, and well concealed by tufts of grass and fallen leaves. On 
the 9th April, when again visited, another egg was found added, 
and as I had to leave that part of the Ahiri forests on the 
following day, I had the eggs brought away." 

Again Colonel Tickell says : — 

" In June 1850, there was brought to me by a bird-catcher a 
hen with four eggs, sitting on which she had been limed. They 
were laid on the bare ground in a crevice, partly concealed and 
sheltered by a bank and the roots of an overhanging bush. 
There was bush jungle about the place, and it was at a consi- 
derable distance from any rock or hill. The eggs were of a 
whitish buff colour, in shape rather rounded, and in size 1*5 
by 1 12 in." 

All the eggs that I have as yet seen have been rather regular 
ovals, somewhat more elongated than the typical fowl's egg, and 
rather more compressed towards the small end. 

The shell strong, but with a soft satiny feel, and a more or 
less decided gloss. They are an uniform delicate cafe au lait> 
and though taken from three different nests in widely distant 
parts of the country, exhibit wonderfully little variation in 
either size, colour or shape. They vary from 1*55 to 165 in 
length, and from 1*07 to 1*15 in breadth, but the average of seven 
eggs is 1*62 by I'll. 



The following are a few dimensions that I have recorded of 
this species : — 

Males. — Length, 1 2*5 to 13*6; expanse, 17*5 to 18*5 ; wing, 
5*85 to 6-2 ; tail from vent, 4-3 to 5*0; tarsus, 1*5 to 1*65 ; bill 
from gape, 08 to 0*9. Weight, 9 to 10 ozs. 



THE PAINTED SPUR-FOWL. 259 

Females. — Length, I2'0 to 12'6 ; expanse, 17*5 to i8'0; wing-, 
575 t0 5'9 ; tail fr° m vent, 4-3 to 4*8 ; tarsus, rj to 1*55 ; bill 
from gape, 0*85 to 09. Weight, 8 to 9 ozs. 

The legs and feet plumbeous ; the irides dark brown ; the up- 
per mandible blackish horny, the lower pale. 

The male, in this species also, has from one to three spurs on 
each leg, generally two on each, often two on one and three 
on the other. 

The females also generally have at least one spur on each 
leg, sometimes two, rarely none at all. 



The Plate is good, but the upper mandible and the legs and 
feet of the male should all be much darker, and the majority of 
females are rather darker and more olivaceous than the parti- 
cular specimen figured. 



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Galloperdix bicalcaratus, Pennant. 



Vernacular ITamSS. — [Haban (or Uban) Kukula, Ceylon.] 




HAVE never seen this species, which is peculiar to the 
Island of Ceyon, in a wild state. Mr. Hart remarks : — 
" Our Spur-Fowl is nearly confined to the Western 
and Central Provinces, and the northern portions 
of the Southern Provinces. Closely as I have explored 
these, I have never seen or heard of the bird in the 
Northern or Eastern Provinces proper, although it 
may just cross the borders of the Western and Central Provin- 
ces into these.'' 

Captain Legge, the able historian of the Birds of Ceylon, 
on the other hand, writes to me somewhat differently and in 
greater detail in regard to the distribution of this species, and 
I can only hope that I have correctly identified the places indi- 
cated in his rather puzzling manuscript : — 

" The Ceylonese Spur-Fowl has a somewhat singular range 
in the island. It is numerous in the jungles and forests of the 
south-west, in the interior of the Western Province, in the dis- 
trict of Saffragam, and finally in the Eastern Province, and 
inhabits the wooded regions of the Kandyan country, up to 
above 5,000 feet, ascending still higher during the cool season. 
How far north of the Batticaloa district it extends, I am 
unable to say. It is common enough in the Friar's Hood Hills, 
and also in similar jungles near Nilgalla, and I have no doubt 
is found in the forests at Bintenne, which it ought certainly to 
affect in common with the wooded northern and eastern 
slopes of the Knuckles ranges, where it is far from uncommon, 
In the Western Province it appears to be local, for there are 
many localities in which, during my wanderings, I failed to 
hear its unmistakable notes. In the many jungles near Atturn- 
geria it used to be heard, and I have likewise listened to its 
cackling in other forests in the Hewagam Korak. About Ambe- 
pussa it is not uncommon, the damp woods clothing the 
labyrinth of hills in that district furnishing it with a secure 
retreat. On the side of the central zone I have not traced it 
further north than the Kurimegala district, and I do not find 
it recorded by my correspondents from Puttalam or Anaradjo- 
pura." 



262 THE CEYLON SPUR-FOWL. 

Mr. Hart further says : — 

" Clearly the bird prefers the damper regions to the dry and 
sandy portions of the Island. They are never seen in the 
open or in any dry forest, though their familiar far-sounding 
notes may often be heard amongst the scrub and stunted 
bushes that surround the native villages. 

" Very shy and subtle are they, and hard indeed to get sight 
of and shoot, though easily enough snared. 

" They feed on various kinds of grain, but perhaps chiefly 
on white ants and various other insects and their larvae." 

To Captain Legge, again, we are indebted for the follow- 
ing note : — 

" The shy habits of this bird would prevent its being detected 
in most places where it is even abundant, were it not for its 
noisy cries or cackling, so wel) known to all who have wandered 
in our Ceylon jungles. 

" It frequents tangled breaks, thickets in damp nalas, forest 
near rivers, jungle over hill sides, and in fact any kind of cover 
which will afford it entire concealment. 

" It runs with great speed, and has a nack of noiselessly beat- 
ing a retreat at one time, while at another it ventriloquizes its 
exciting notes, until the sportsman becomes fairly exasperated, 
and gives up the attempt he has made to stalk it in disgust. I 
have more than once endeavoured to cut off its retreat, or 
flush it by rushing into a little piece of jungle or detached 
copse in which I had found it, and from which it seemed im- 
possible for it to escape, but I invariably failed in the attempt, 
— a failure aggravated by my utter bewilderment at its un- 
accountable disappearance. 

" The cock birds begin to call about 6 in the morning, and when 
one has fairly commenced, the curious ascending scale of notes 
is taken up from one to another, until the wood resounds with 
their cries. 

" They always seem to keep in small parties, which perhaps 
consist of the young of the year with their parents. 

" The natives in the Central Provinces snare them with horse- 
hair nooses, set in spots which they are observed to frequent 
in the early morning. 

" They do not live well in confinement, either killing them- 
selves by fighting, or knocking their brains out by flying up against 
the top of their aviaries, and if they escape this fate, they are 
liable to die of some disease." 

" Peculiar to Ceylon," writes Mr. Holdsworth, "abundant on 
many parts of the hills, and frequenting also jungly places in the 
low parts of the southern half of the island. During the winter 
months it is numerous in the coffee districts and upper hills, 
and is trapped in large numbers by the natives. It is skulking 
in its habits and difficult to flush, usually seeking concealment 
in the thicker parts of the jungle when it is disturbed." 



THE CEYLON SPUR-FOWL, 263 

Says Mr. Layard : — 

" This species, known to Europeans under the various 
denominations of ' Spur-Fowl/ ' Double-spurred Partridge,' and 
* Kandy Partridge/ is an inhabitant of the Central, Southern, 
and South-Western Provinces. 

" It delights in deep tangled brakes and thick masses of 
canes on the sides of gentle declivities ; these it finds abundant- 
ly in the localities above cited, while in the Northern and 
Eastern Provinces the sandy soil and open jungles which 
prevail offer no congenial home to a bird of its shy and retiring 
habits.' Even in localities where it does occur, it is more often 
heard than seen, for so extreme is its wariness that it rarely falls 
before the gun even of the native hunter, who creeps about 
unclad and as noiselessly as the denizens of the forest. It is 
captured, therefore, by means of nooses and other snares placed 
in its path, for its flesh is highly valued by the natives. I think 
it decidedly superior in flavour to any other game which I 
tasted in Ceylon ; it tastes and looks much like Grouse. 

" It is most active during the mornings and evenings, roam- 
ing in small parties amid the open glades or bare towering 
trunks of the ' Mookalanee,' or high tree jungle, but on the 
least alarm seeking safety in the most impenetrable underwood. 
After remaining concealed some time, and if nothing occurs to 
excite their fears, a cock-bird, bolder than the rest, will utter 
a few low notes, not unlike the plaintive call of a turkey 
poult ; if this is answered from a distance or the birds are 
re-assured, the call is changed for a loud piping whistle, and 
the birds once more sally out from their concealment. I am 
convinced that, like the Virginian Quail, these birds possess the 
power of ventriloquizing in an eminent degree. I have often 
listened to those in my aviary, and could have declared that 
the calls proceeded from every part of the ground save that in 
which the performers were located. 

" They do not thrive well in confinement, but exhibit the 
same wild and suspicious demeanour, always hiding behind 
their feeding troughs or herding in corners ; if any object 
approaches too closely and alarms them suddenly, they rise from 
the ground with a spring, and unless the roof is placed at a 
considerable altitude, dash their heads against it and fall lifeless 
to the ground.* 

" They fly with great rapidity, but prefer to seek safety in 
concealment rather than maintain a lengthened flight. One 
which escaped from the basket in my house flew up to the 
roof and through the ventilating holes, but instead of continu- 

* All game birds do this more or less, and the first requisite for any cage or aviary 
for recently-captured game birds from Quail to Moonal is to provide a false, loose, 
cloth ceiling to the cage from 6 inches to a foot below the real roof. It is simple 
mismanagement when birds are allowed to hurt their heads against the roofs of their 
cages or hutches. — A. O. H. 



264 THE CEYLON SPUR-FOWL. 

ing on the wing at the elevation it had attained, it instantly 
dropped into a small copse, out of which it was with much 
difficulty hunted, when it darted through an open door into 
the kitchen and concealed itself behind a box. 

" The males are very pugnacious, and in their manner of 
fighting remind me of the game cock, depressing and elevating 
the head, imitating each other's actions, &c, &c." 



As TO THEIR nidification, Mr. Hart says : — 

" The nesting season of this Spur-Fowl is not restricted to 
a limited period. I have found the eggs myself in February, 
May and October ; it lays four to six eggs of a yellowish cafe an 
lait colour, in a dense jungle or thick forest under some promi- 
nent root of a huge tree, or sheltered by an overhanging bush 
or rock." 

Captain Legge again remarks : — 

" The nesting season of this species would seem to extend over 
a considerable period, as I have had fledged young brought me 
at the latter end of May, and have taken the eggs myself on the 
7th July in the same district, the Southern Province. 

"The nest is situated in the forest or in thick jungle, under 
the shelter of a rock or near the projecting root of a large 
tree. It is merely a slight hollow scraped in the ground, with 
one or two dead leaves in the bottom to serve as lining. I 
am unable to state what the average number of eggs in the 
clutch is, as so little is known of the nesting of this bird, — the 
eggs in my own collection being the only specimens I believe 
in the possession of any collector ; they were taken from the 
same nest and are two in number. The natives inform me 
that they lay four very often, and as I had four young ones 
brought me once with the old bird, I dare say their information 
is correct. They are oval in form and rather large in diameter 
for their length. My two specimens measured respectively 
1*42 and 1*43 by ri2. 

" They are of an uniform cream colour, one of them having 
small white calcareous polished specks all over it similar to 
those seen on the eggs of the Cochin-China fowls at times. 
The old bird was sitting on the nest at the time I found it, 
and flew off with great swiftness. This I attribute; however, to 
my having come on the nest suddenly, otherwise she would 
doubtless, as most birds which nest on the ground do in similar 
cases, have left it stealthily." 

Eggs sent me from Ceylon are moderately elongated ovals, 
very similar to those of the other Spur-Fowls, of a pale cafe au 
lait colour, -very smooth and fairly glossy, and varying from 1*44 
to 155 in length, and from 1*09 to 118 in breadth. 



THE CEYLON SPUR-FOWL. 265 

FOR THE following dimensions recorded from numerous speci- 
mens measured in the flesh under my instructions, I am indebted 
to Messrs. Hart, of Colombo, who, though professional natur- 
alists, appear to me to take great pains with work entrusted 
to them. 

Males. — Length, 12*50 to 14*50; expanse, 19*25 to 21*0; 
wing, &o to 6*75 ; tail from vent, 4*9 to 5*5 ; tarsus, 1*75 to 
2*0 ; bill from gape, 0*9 to i*o. Weight, 11 to 13 ozs. 

Females.— Length, iroto 12*25 ; expanse, 18*0 to 19*0; wing, 
5*o to 5*8 ; tail from vent, 4*25 to 475 ; tarsus, 1-50 to 1*75 ; 
bill from gape, 0*65 to 0*85. Weight, 7 to 10 ozs. 

Iris pale brown ; bill, cere and orbits pale vermilion red 
in adult males, and reddish brown in females ; legs and feet 
pale vermilion red. 

The cocks generally have four spurs and sometimes six. 

The hens are very seldom devoid of spurs, often they have 
two, and three even occur. 



The Plate represents the plumage of both sexes fairly, but 
the male is, I venture to think, altogether out of drawing, 
the plumage on its breast has got decidedly mixed, and the 
artist only knows how the poor thing could get along with both 
legs on the off side ! 



These three are the only known species of the genus, which 
belongs exclusively to the Indian region, 



34 




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Tetraogallus himalayansis, G. B. Or ay. 



Vernacular ITaiaSS-— [Kullu, Lupu, Baera, Western Nepal ; Huin-wal, Kumaun ; 
Jer-moonal, Hills north of Mussooree ; Leep, Knhi ; Kubuk, Gourkagu, 
Kashmir; Kauk-i-durra, Afghanistan; Kabk-i-dareh, Persia; Utar, Ular, 
Turkistan.\ 




HE Himalayan Snow-Cock is found in suitable loca- 
lities throughout the Himalayas from the eastern 
portions of Kumaun to Hazara, and probably con- 
siderably further west in Afghanistan. Writing 
from Gilghit, Captain Biddulph tells me that this 
is one of the few game birds that he had met with 
west of the Indus. 
It does not enter Nepal ; Hodgson records that the only 
specimens he obtained were shot in the hills of Kumaun, 
close under the perpetual snows, and that it is not met with 
in Nepal. 

Hutton recorded that a species of Snow-Cock, which he 
identified with this, was sometimes brought into the market at 
Kabul, and that he had four live ones at Candahar. I do not 
know that any Afghan specimens have since been examined, 
and at that time the several species had not been generally 
discriminated ; but I do not myself doubt that it is the present 
species that occurs in Northern Afghanistan. 

Outside our limits it occurs on the northern flanks of the 
Kuen-luen, as at the Sanju Pass, right away to the Pamir, and 
Biddulph met with it, about all the passes en route to Wakhan, 
and on the Pamir ridges, and at the top of the Baroghil Pass 
on the Hindoo Koosh. 

The plains of Yarkand are, of course, too low for this species ; 
but great numbers are brought into Kashgar during the 
winter of a pale race (not, I think, specifically separable), which 
Scully says come from the hills near Kugiar, which may be 
styled northern outliers of the Kuen-luen, but which Biddulph 
believes come also from the Tian-Shan. 

It is impossible to be certain what species of this genus 
Severtsov (and he records two) obtained in Western Turkestan, 
but to judge from the names he uses, himalayensis was not 
amongst them. 



268 THE HIMALAYAN SNOW-COCK. 

In Northern Persia, a distinct species is found in the Elburz, 
but the Persians say that a second species is found in the 
lofty Dinar mountains in the south, just north of Shiraz, and 
it is not impossible that this may be Iiimalayensis. 



BARE ROCKY hill sides, ravines and passes in the higher snowy 
ranges, and elevated broken stony ground, at elevations of 
from 1 1,000 to 18,000 feet, and mostly on the northern sides 
of the first snowy ranges are the places to which, in summer and 
early autumn, this species resorts. In the winter they come 
in much greater numbers south of these ranges, and may be met 
with, my collectors tell me, after heavy snow as low as 7,000 
and 8,000 feet in the valleys of the Beds and Sutlej. 

In the northern portions of Kumaun and British Gharwal, 
about the sources of the Ganges and Jumna, the Sutlej valley 
above the junction of the Buspa, all along the southern side 
of the Baralatsi Range, above Samgam, and towards the Mani- 
rang-la, in Spiti, Northern Kulu and the range through which 
the Rohtung runs, and so on in all the higher ranges inside 
the first snowy range westwards to Hazara, they are said to be 
common, by different authorities and sportsmen whom I have 
consulted, but nowhere have I myself seen them in anything 
like the numbers in which I found them on the Parang-la route 
from the Tso-mourari, across Spiti to the Babba Pass. Baldwin 
says that he once saw upwards of fifty together below the 
Niti Pass, and I am sure that in one morning's march along 
the Parang-la I saw two hundred, in parties of from ten to 
twenty. 

With a gun they do not, as a rule, afford any sport ; when 
feeding they always have a watch-bird, perched erect on some 
projecting stone, who is scarcely to be hoodwinked, and who 
at any rate, when you get within 80 or 90 yards, gives the 
alarm and raises the whole covey. You may get them driven 
over you nicely at times, and you might sometimes stalk them, 
if it were worth the tremendous labour such stalks usually 
involve in the places they frequent, and occasionally by walk- 
ing up to them from below, forming a line of eight or ten men 
covering three hundred yards or so in length, where the ground 
will permit it, one out of two or three guns may get a fair over- 
head shot ; but as a rule, wherever I have seen them, the 
rifle is the only weapon with which a bag can be made. I have 
heard of their being met with so tame that they did not rise 
till approached within 30 yards, but I personally have found 
that 100 yards was about as near as they would ever let you 
approach, and then, if with a small bore single rifle you cannot 
secure the sentinel, it is your own fault. It is capital practice, 
and in the clear crisp mountain air, surrounded by superb 
scenery might tempt any man to pursue it as regular sport, 



THE HIMALAYAN SNOW-COCK. 269 

were it not that just the grey stones that they affect are the 
haunts also of the Burrel, and more rarely of the Tahr, which 
to most sportsmen present far greater attractions. In Spiti, 
however, I went in regularly for it, and my camp followers 
seemed to relish the birds as food, though to me they seemed, 
after many trials, almost uneatable. 

My friend Mr. Wilson's account, as it was one of the earliest 
so it remains to this day incomparably the best and most com- 
plete account of this species. He says : — 

" It is confined exclusively to the snowy ranges, or the large 
spurs jutting from them which are elevated above the limits 
of forest, but is driven by the snows of winter to perform one, 
and in some places two, annual migrations to the middle 
regions ; in summer they are only seen near the limits of vege- 
tation. In Kunawar they are common at all seasons from 
Cheenee upwards, but on the Gangetic hills, from June till 
August, however much a person wanders about on the highest 
accessible places, but few are met with, and I have no doubt 
whatever but that nearly all which at other seasons frequent 
this part, retire across the snow into Chinese Thibet to breed. 
About the beginning of September they are first seen near the 
tops of the higher grassy ridges, jutting from the snow and the 
green slopes above, and about the limits of forest. After the 
first general and severe fall of snow they come down in num- 
bers on to some of the bare exposed hills in the forest regions, 
and remain there till the end of March. This partial migra- 
tion is probably made in the night after the fall of snow, as 
I have invariably found them in their winter quarters early 
the next morning. It requires a deep fall to drive them down, 
and some mild winters, except a few odd birds, they do not 
come at all. The birds on each respective hill seem to have 
a particular spot for their winter resort, which they return to 
every year the migration is made. 

" The Snow Pheasant is gregarious, congregating in packs, 
sometimes to the number of 20 or 30, but in general not more 
than from 5 to 10 ; several packs inhabiting the same hill. 
In summer the few which remain on our side are found in 
single pairs generally, but across the snow, where the great 
body migrate, I almost always even then found several to- 
gether. They seldom leave the hill on which they are located, 
but fly backwards and forwards when disturbed. 

" The Ring-tailed Eagle* is an inveterate annoyer of these 
birds ; inhabiting such exposed situations where there is nothing 
to conceal so large a bird from his sight, as he sails along the 
hill side above them, they at once arrest his attention and are 
driven backwards and forwards by this unrelenting tormentor 
all day long. On the appearance of one of these birds, which 

* The birds here referred to are the non-adults of the Himalayan Golden Eagle. 
Mr. Wilson has sent me numerous specimens. — A. O. H. 



270 THE HIMALAYAN SNOW-COCK. 

fortunately for them are not very numerous, they seldom wait 
till he makes a stoop, but on his making a wheel near the spot 
where they are, immediately fly off to another quarter of the 
hill ; the eagle never flies after or attacks them on the wing, 
so that, though he allows them little quietude while near their 
resort, he only occasionally succeeds in securing one. 

" The Jer-moonal never enters forests or jungle, and avoids 
spots where the grass is long, or where there is underwood of 
any kind. It is needless to add that it never perches. During 
the day, if the weather be fine and warm, they sit on the rocks 
or rugged parts of the hill without moving much about except 
in the morning and evening. When cold and cloudy, and in 
rainy weather, they are very brisk, and are moving about and 
feeding all day long. 

" When feeding they walk slowly up hill, picking up the ten- 
der blades of grass and young shoots of plants, occasionally 
stopping to scratch up a certain bulbous root of which they 
seem very fond. If they reach the summit of the hill, after 
remaining stationary some time, they fly off to another quarter, 
alighting some distance down, and again picking their way 
upwards. When walking, they erect their tails, have a rather 
ungainly gait, and at a little distance have something the appear- 
ance of a large grey goose. They are partial to feeding on 
spots where the sheep have been kept at nights when grazing 
in the summer pastures. These places have been called ' tat- 
ters' by the shepherds, and the grass on them keeps green 
and fresh long after the rest of the hill is quite dry and brown. 
They roost on the rocks and shelves of precipices, and return 
to one spot many successive nights. 

" Their call is a low soft whistling, occasionally heard at 
intervals throughout the day, but more generally at day-break. 
It is most common in cloudy weather. The first note is con- 
siderably prolonged and followed by a succession of low rapid 
whistles, and it is by far the most agreeable song of all our 
game birds. This note is only heard when the bird is at 
rest ; when alarmed and walking away, it sometimes utters at 
short intervals a single low whistle, and when it gets on the 
wing the whistles are shrill and very rapid. However far it 
flies, the whistling is continued until it alights, and for a 
few seconds afterwards, but then slightly changed in tone to 
a few notes, which seem in a strange manner to express satis- 
faction at being again on the ground. However odd the com- 
parison, I can compare the whistling of these birds when 
flying and alighting to nothing but the difference of sound 
produced by the wings of a flock of pigeons when flying 
and when alighting on some spot where they have to flutter 
a few seconds before they can gain footing. 

" The Jer-moonal is not remarkably wild or shy. When 
approached from below, on a person getting within eighty or 



THE HIMALAYAN SNOW-COCK. 2/1 

a hundred yards, they move slowly up hill or slanting across, 
often turning to look back, and do not go very far unless 
followed. If approached from above, they fly off at once, 
without walking many yards from the spot. They seldom 
in any situation walk far down hill, and never run except for 
a few yards when about to take wing. The whole flock 
get up together ; the flight is rapid, downwards at first, and 
then curving, so as to alight nearly on the same level. Where 
the hill is open and of great extent, it is often for upwards 
of a mile, at a considerable height in the air ; when more 
circumscribed, as is often the case on the hills they frequent 
in winter, it is of shorter duration, perhaps merely across or 
into the next ridge. 

" They feed on the leaves of plants and grass, and occa- 
sionally on moss, roots, and flowers ; grass forms by far the 
greater portion of their food. They are very partial to the young 
blade of wheat and barley when it is first springing up, and while 
it remains short ; and, should there be an isolated patch on 
the hill where they are, visit it regularly night and morning. 
They never, however, come into what may be called the 
regular cultivation. 

" They are generally extremely fat, hut the flesh is not 
particularly good, and it has often an unpleasant flavour when 
the bird is killed at an high elevation, probably owing to some 
of the plants it there feeds upon. They are hardy birds and 
easily kept in confinement, but though they will eat grain, I 
doubt if they would live long without an occasional supply 
of their natural green food of grass and plants. 

" They may be kept with the least trouble in large cages, 
the bottoms of which, instead of being solid, are made of bars 
of wood or iron wire, so that the cages being put out on the 
grass, the birds may feed through the interstices." 



I KNOW BUT little of the nidification of the Himalayan Snow- 
Cock. 

In the Upper Sutlej Valley, Lahul, and Spiti this species 
lays in June, at elevations of from 12,000 to 17,000 feet. The 
eggs, according to native collectors, are normally five in 
number. 

Wilson long ago told us that " the eggs, which have been 
found by travellers are about the size of those of the Turkey ; 
but, like those of the Grouse, are of a more lengthened form ; 
their ground colour, clear light olive, sparingly dotted over with 
small light chestnut spots." 

Later he wrote to me : " The Snow-Pheasant or Snow-Cock 
breeds at elevations from 12,000 to 17,500 feet, but very rarely 
on the southern side of the snows. The hills near the source 
of the Ganges, and the Sutlej Valley above the junction of the 



2^2 THE HIMALAYAN SNOW-COCK. 

Buspa, which are breeding grounds, are in reality beyond the 
first Snowy Range, although a person may get to them almost 
without seeing snow. Both these places are breeding grounds 
of the Snow-Pheasant, but by far the greater number of these 
birds which in winter are found on our side of the Snowy 
Ranges go up into Thibet to breed. The business of incuba- 
tion commences about the end of May, and some eggs are 
laid as late as the beginning of July. The nest is a hole 
scratched in the ground under shelter of a stone or rock, a 
tuft of grass or a juniper, or other bush of the high regions 
where it breeds. The Snow-Pheasants, and indeed all the rest 
of the Pheasants, exercise considerable ingenuity in picking 
out places for their nests, for they will almost always be found 
well sheltered from the rain. None make a nest, — that is, 
they bring nothing as material to it, — but nests, where grass 
and leaves are thick, get pretty well lined with these and 
feathers. I have never myself found a Snow-Pheasant's nest 
with more than five eggs, and of three that I have lately ex- 
amined, each contained that number, but the Panaris and 
Tartars assure me that they lay up to nine, and even twelve, 
and I have certainly seen as many as a dozen chicks at a time 
altogether. Still it is very possible these may have belonged 
to more than one brood. Snow-Pheasants are eminently 
gregarious and do not always separate into pairs for the purpose 
of incubation. Where a lot of young chicks are seen, several 
old birds will generally be seen too. The eggs are about 27 
long by 1 '9 wide, of a greenish hue, minutely speckled with 
brown, chiefly at the pointed end." 

By degrees he has sent me a noble series of the eggs. In 
shape they are long, nearly perfect ovals, slightly larger and 
perhaps less pointed than those of the Moonal. The shell is 
moderately fine and glossy, showing everywhere minute pitted 
pores similar to, but much less marked than, those of the 
Pea-Fowls. The ground is a paler or darker, more or less olive, 
more or less brown, stone colour, more or less thinly speckled 
and spotted, and at times blotched (though the blotches are 
never large, rarely more than 0*15 in diameter), with brownish 
red, pale chestnut, reddish, purplish or almost umber brown. 
All the spots on each egg, and I think of every egg in the same 
clutch, are of the same tint. The larger markings are apparent- 
ly always towards the small end of the egg. 

In size twenty-five eggs that I have measured vary from 2'5 
to 2*8 in length, and from 175 to ro,8 in breadth. The aver- 
age of the whole 25 is 272 by 1*85. 



I HAVE BUT few dimensions recorded from fresh specimens 
of this species ; these show that they vary as follows (and pro- 
bably to a much greater extent) : — 



THE HIMALAYAN SNOW-COCK. 273 

Males. — Length, 26*0 to 29*0 ; expanse, 36*0 to 40*0 ; wing, 
1 1 25 to I2'6; tail from vent, ?'8 to 8*1 ; tarsus, 27 to 2'8 ; bill 
from gape, 1*35 to 1*55. Weight, 4 lbs. 10 ozs. to 6 lbs. 8 ozs. 

Females. — Length, 21*5 to 23*5 ; expanse, 33*6 to 36*0; wing, 
10*8 to ii"5 ; tail from vent, 7*0 to 7*4; tarsus, 2*3 to 2*5; 
bill from gape, 1*3 to 1*4. Weight, 3 lbs. to 4 lbs. 2 ozs. 

The legs and feet are yellowish red or orange ; the claws 
blackish horny ; the irides dark brown ; the lower eyelid 
slaty blue ; the bill pale horny or slaty, dark at point ; nostril 
scale dark orange ; cere brighter and yellower orange ; behind 
the eye is a long space of naked yellow skin. The males have 
a large blunt spur on either leg. The females want this, but 
so far as plumage is concerned are precisely like the males. 



The Plate is on the whole good, but the legs are not suffi- 
ciently orange, and the bright orange yellow cere and nostril 
scale are ignored in the male, though indicated in the female. 



35 



im mmvtm %mw*mmi 



Tetraogallus tibetanus, Gould. 



Vernacular Names— [Ular, Utar (Kirghiz) ; Hailik (Mongols) ; Cunmo 
(Tanguts). ] 




HAVE never myself met with this species, but Hender- 
son, Biddulph and others have shot it on the Chang or 
Sapti-la between Ley and the head of the Pangong ; 
Biddulph saw it at the Lanka-la above Chagra ; 
Stoliczka found it at the head of the Spiti Valley and 
its smaller tributaries ; I have seen two specimens 
shot in Kumaun north of and beyond Nanda-devi. 
Captain Elwes showed me a specimen shot at Phalung in 
Sikhim,* and Mr. Mandelli has procured many specimens along 
the northern frontier of that State. We may, therefore, say 
that the bird just crosses the northern limits of the Empire. 

All our expeditions have found it at the Sanju Pass, and 
it probably occurs everywhere in sufficiently high and in- 
hospitable regions on the northern side of the great range 
dividing India from Tibet, and pretty well throughout this latter, 
up in the north of which, as also in the Southern Kokonor moun- 
tains and the Chinese Province of Kansu, Prjevalski met with it. 
David says it occurs about Moupin. 

It is brought in great numbers into the markets of Yarkand 
and Kashgar during the cold season, and is said at that time, 
when the snow has driven them down to more reasonable 
altitudes, to be common in all the hills that bound Western 
Turkestan on the south, west and north. If this is correct, they 
probably occur in the Tian Shan. They may also occur in Eastern 
Turkestan, and may be what Severtsov mentions as Megalo- 
perdix nigellii, B. minor ! 



In the summer this species seems to range in the Himalayas 
to 19,000 feet, as on the Chang-lung-la, and to be very rarely if 

* Although Hodgson nowhere, that I can find, mentions it, and Gray includes it in 
none of his Catalogues, it probably occurs along the northern frontier of Nepal also, 
as Mr. Hodgson's natives recorded the measurements of three fresh specimens, said to 
have been brought in thence, and there is a very good, though cancelled, figure of it 
amongst his drawings. 



2?6 THE THIBETAN SNOW-COCK. 

ever met with below 15,000 feet ; in Northern Thibet they come 
lower down. 

Their habits seem, from what little can be gleaned of them, 
much like those of their larger congener, but they live as a rule 
in even more elevated and desolate wildernesses. 
Henderson says in our (i Lahore to Yarkand :" — 

" This bird was first met with in the Sanju Pass in the begin- 
ning of August, at an elevation of nearly 17,000 feet. 

" Only a single covey was observed there — one was shot and 
a Falcon flying over frightened the rest, who immediately 
settled and squatted, so that two of them were caught alive. 
A month and a half later, on the return journey, they were in 
thousands at the same place, a continuous stream passing and 
repassing along the hill side throughout the forenoon just about 
the snow level. The Kirghiz had numbers of young ones, 
which their herd boys had caught. 

" Later again, in October, the expedition found them very 
numerous in the Chang-la Pass about the snow level. They had 
been feeding on grain all picked out of the droppings of cattle 
and horses. The Kirghiz name for the bird is Utar." 

Scully, again, who went over much the same ground, 
remarks : — 

" I shot my first specimen of this species on the 24th Septem- 
ber 1874 near the top of the Sanju Pass, at an elevation of 
16,000 feet. Next day I saw hundreds of the birds in a side 
valley near Kichik Yailak, where they afforded me good 
shooting. They associated in coveys of about ten to twenty, and 
were not very shy. When approached from below they moved 
leisurely up hill, stopping every now and then to look at one, 
but when shot at or alarmed they flew downwards very swiftly, 
uttering a pleasant musical whistle. I found their flesh most 
delicious eating. 

" Numbers of these birds were brought in to us alive, during 
the winter, at Kashghar (where a specimen was preserved) and 
at Yarkand ; they were very tame in confinement. Both this 
species and the preceding one had evidently sought the lower 
hills near the plains when winter set in. 

" The Turki name for the bird is Ular." 

Prjevalski's account, however, is far the best and fullest that 
we as yet have of this species. He says : — 

" Like C. chukar i the present species is a quick and lively 
bird ; and its voice can almost daily be heard, at least in spring 
and summer, in the midst of the wildest and most desolate 
parts of the mountains. In the middle of the day, however, 
from about 1 1 to 3 o'clock, they do not call, but usually rest ; 
in the morning they begin long before sun-rise. 

" The voice of this Snow Partridge varies in the following 
ways : (a) when at rest it utters a note resembling that of the 
female Barndoor Fowl, only louder, occasionally interrupted by 



THE THIBETAN SNOW-COCK. 277 

a peculiar whistle something like that of a Snipe ; (J?) when 
alighting it calls several times in succession, sounding like 
click, click, click; (c) when settling down on the ground it 
makes a noise which sounds in this way — Goooo, G 00000, 
several times repeated ; and (d) when collecting its frightened 
young it whistles in a manner which is quite distinct from the 
above-mentioned sound. 

" In winter they keep in small flocks up to fifteen individuals; 
and in April, or even earlier, they commence pairing. 

" The number of young belonging to a nest varies from five 
to ten ; and we found young ones early in August. They 
were very small, about the size of a Quail ; whilst others were 
quite as a large as their parents. 

"We did not succeed in finding any eggs: only on one 
occasion my companion discovered a nest with some broken 
shells in it, which evidently belonged to the present species ; 
and according to the fragments, the eggs are larger than those 
of the common hen, of a dirty white shaded with green, and 
marked on the smaller end with some blackish brown spots. 

" Both parent birds accompany the brood. Whilst the young 
are small they crouch on the approach of danger, or try to 
hide themselves between the loose stones, whilst the old ones 
keep on running within about twenty paces from the sports- 
man ; but when they are full grown they try to escape by 
running, and follow the cock and hen which are leading the 
whole flock. When much pressed, however, they fly, and do 
not alight on the ground again until they have crossed a ravine 
or valley. 

"These birds are very wild, and when alone the old birds 
do not allow themselves to be approached within a hundred 
paces. They hide themselves between stones, and usually 
spring up and take to flight, or else try to run, which they 
do so fast that a man cannot catch them. 

" We noticed that when they are approached from the bottom 
of a hill they commence running, but if from the top they at 
once get up. 

" When settling on the ground they shake their tails several 
times, just as our Willow Grouse do. 

" Throughout August, and even in the earlier part of Sep- 
tember, this species was moulting. The Tanguts informed us 
that the birds got very fat in the autumn, which, however, we 
did not observe in those killed at the above season in Tibet." 



I HAVE unfortunately no information as to the nidification of 
this species. 



The following are dimensions recorded in the flesh of six 
birds, three of each sex only, and therefore probably by no 



278 THE THIBETAN SNOW-COCK. 

means representing fully the limits within which adults vary, 
As for the young they are much smaller. 

Males. — Length, 1 9'0 to 21*5 ; expanse, 30*0 to 32*5; wing, 
100 to io-6 ; tail from vent, 6'S to 74, ; tarsus, 2*1 to 2*36 ; 
bill from gape, 1*3 to 1-4. Weight ? 

Females. — Length, i8 - o to 20*0 ; expanse, 29*0 to 31*5 ; wing, 
9*55 to 10-2; tail from vent, 64 to 7-0; tarsus, 2"i to 2*2; 
bill from gape, 1*15 to 1*3. Weight ? 

The irides are brown or reddish brown ; orbits red ; the legs 
and feet vary, in both sexes as far as I can make out, from orange 
through every shade to almost coral red — possibly according to 
season, more probably according to age ; the bill is dull red to 
orange horny in the male, often dusky about the base (a sign 
I fancy of nonage), and greenish or yellowish green in the 
female, always apparently dusky towards the base, and paler 
and yellower on the lower mandible. 



The Plate is particularly good, but unfortunately represents 
the male bird only. 

Prjevalsky correctly exposes the error into which Mr. Gould 
and I fell in stating that the males and females of this species 
are alike. I had never myself sexed a specimen, and had to 
rely on others ; broken reeds as it turns out. 

As a matter of fact the female has only a central stripe 
down the throat white, and has the whole cheeks, sides and 
front of the neck, and breast as far down as the grey band 
extends in the male, finely mottled, vermicellated, and variegated, 
brown and rufous buff, the brown being much darkest on the 
sides of the neck and in front at its base, and becoming grey- 
er towards where this crop patch ends. 

In the males the bills are reddish to orange horny ; in the 
females greenish horny, yellower on the lower mandible, dusky 
about the base. 

The bill in the male is considerably larger than in the 
female, and he has a large, very stout, very blunt spur on each 
leg, while the females and younger males (though apparently 
nearly full sized and quite full plumaged) have no trace of 
this. 

Prjevalsky also says : — " A male from Kansu has under the 
throat a large slate coloured spot, not an uninterrupted cross 
band running parallel to the breast band, as described by 
Hume, but not marked at all by Gould." 

Gould, I expect, figured from an indifferent specimen or the 
birds may be variable in this respect,* but I have never yet seen 
any male entirely wanting this throat band. Of five adult males 



* Hodgson figures a specimen, not only without the throat band, but with only 
a trace, just a few scattered feathers here and there, of the breast band. 



THE THIBETAN SNOW-COCK. 279 

before me, four have the band continuous as shown in our 
plate ; one has it interrupted as described by Prjevalsky, but 
this has no spurs. In many birds the band running down 
the sides of the neck and across the throat is only dark grey 
and not nearly so dark as in the particular specimen figured. 



At LEAST three more species of this fine genus are known, viz., 
T. CASPIUS, Gm., T. CAUCASICUS, Pall., and T ALTAICUS, 
Gebler, and there is a fourth, which is doubtful. Of the first 
the Gok or Geyee mountains of Southern Asia Minor constitute 
probably the western limits. Thence it extends eastwards* 
through the rest of the Taurus into Armenia, Kurdistan and 
Northern Persia as far as Astrabad at the south-east corner of 
the Caspian, whence it was first described. The other two are 
possibly nearly confined to the mountain chains, whence their 
names are derived. 



-. 



1/ 



Danford. Ibis, 1878, p. 29, 



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